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    Expanding Technology Commercialization in Maryland

    The University System of Maryland’s (USM) $10 million Momentum Fund initiative provides investment funding for promising technology ventures born out of USM’s 12 constituent institutions.

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Steps for Funding

Companies that meet the minimum qualifications for the USM Maryland Momentum Fund are encouraged to apply. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year and will be evaluated as they are received.

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Supporting Maryland's Economy

In addition to the Maryland Momentum Fund, the USM’s Office of Economic Development supports, finances, and promotes early stage business ventures through a variety of initiatives, including UM Ventures, the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures, and the research parks of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, University of Maryland, College Park, and University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Next Step Robotics

NextStep Robotics, a University of Maryland Baltimore spin out company, is developing adaptive software that provides personalized robotic therapy to patients. This personalized “assist as needed approach” is the first clinically proven option to effectively treat foot drop, a neurological condition that inhibits a patient’s ability to raise their toes while walking. As more data is collected, the software will transition into an AI-based system to assess and assign training protocols optimized for each patient’s deficit. Improved outcomes for foot drop and other gait deficits will allow clinics to provide reimbursable therapy for a patient base currently without treatment options.

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MF Fire

MF Fire has created the first smart wood stove to deliver a perfectly optimized fire every time: highly efficient, near zero emissions, and with proactive home fire prevention. The fire scientists of MF Fire produced a smart stove that delivers superior wood fuel savings while producing more usable, ultra-clean heat. Through a smart app, the user sets a desired room temperature and the stove constantly adjusts to deliver the target heat with maximum efficiency. The MIT-award winning technology is disrupting a $6B market.

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The North American Wave Engine Corporation (NAWEC) is an aerospace company engaged in the design and development of wave engines for jet propulsion applications. NAWEC is leveraging recent scientific developments to offer unparalleled levels of Thrust-to-Weight and Thrust Specific Fuel Consumption without the use of any moving parts. This improved efficiency and order-of-magnitude cost improvements are going to become indispensable to a wide spectrum of market segments ranging from commercial transport aircraft to the rapidly-growing UAV sector.

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PaverGuide logo

PaverGuide™ is a structural base for paving systems. It is manufactured from recycled plastic and exceeds H-20 loading. PaverGuide™ is installed faster and cheaper than the stone it replaces, and at 90% void, it provides a massive rainwater reservoir and expansive infiltration surface. Use PaverGuide™ for increased productivity, increased profitability, and expansion of your clean, green, and professional image.

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Retrium Logo

Retrium is the only enterprise-ready solution for agile retrospectives. With 16,000 retrospectives performed using the platform to-date, Retrium has quickly become the standard among leading agile organizations, including GE Healthcare, Navis, PointClickCare, and Ticketmaster.

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Zest Tea logo

Using natural tea extracts and a proprietary blending process, Zest Tea is able to produce high-quality tea with 135 - 160mg of caffeine per cup, or about three times the amount of caffeine as normal tea and equal to the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee. Tea’s naturally occurring amino acids, including L-Theanine, help moderate caffeine’s effects, minimizing the jitters and crash often experienced with consuming caffeine. Zest Tea’s bagged products are available in 2,000 grocery stores across the nation and the new iced tea beverage is currently launching with 7-Eleven in the mid-Atlantic as well as other retailers in the region. Zest Tea is also available to order online from and Amazon.

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Gemstone Biotherapeutics logo

Gemstone Biotherapeutics was founded in Baltimore, MD in 2013, with an IP portolio exclusively licensed IP from The Johns Hopkins University. We are focused on commercializing our Extracellular Matrix Replacement (EMR) technology that yields robust skin regeneration in preclinical studies. Our management team has the expertise and passion to drive commercialization and build a strong pipeline of dermatology products.

We collaborate with world class researchers at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania. Our pipeline of assets with rapid commercialization potential has the potential to yield multiple high-value products.

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Veralox Therapeutics logo

Veralox Therapeutics is focused on developing first-in-class small molecule therapeutics that treat the underlying pathologies of thrombosis and type 1 diabetes, which each impact hundreds of thousands of new U.S. patients each year. Based on an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of these diseases, Veralox’s new treatment paradigms will lead to better outcomes for patients.

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NeoProgen logo

University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) startup, NeoProgen, is developing a novel cell-based therapy for people who experience a heart attack and patients with advanced heart failure. The company’s technology is developed from neonatal Cardiac Progenitor Cells (nCPCs) derived from tissue discarded during lifesaving heart surgery in babies with congenital heart conditions. UMB’s leading pediatric cardiac surgeon, Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, and his lab have published groundbreaking work in preclinical studies that show nCPCs appear to be superior to other cell therapies being pursued by competing academic and commercial groups for functional markers of cardiovascular disease.

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Minnowtech logo, a fish symbol

Minnowtech's non-invasive technology allows shrimp farmers to know instantly how many shrimp they have in their ponds and their biomass, allowing them to optimize their harvests and livelihoods.​

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ARMR logo

ARMR Systems develops hemorrhage control systems designed to increase the survivability of traumatic battlefield injury in situations where advanced medical support is not immediately available.

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InferCabulary Logo

InferCabulary is a tool that helps learners infer deep meanings of nuanced words for themselves by analyzing and interpreting the common thread among carefully chosen images and provided captions. The approach offered by InferCabulary’s software is the opposite of rote memorization and, instead, mimics avid readership. It also is designed to teach the many contexts of words in a fraction of the time, which in turn, accelerates student comprehension across the curriculum.

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Claire Broido Johnson, MBA

Managing Director, Maryland Momentum Fund

University System of Maryland

Claire Broido Johnson, a senior operations executive, entrepreneur, and investor, brings nearly 25 years of senior operations, finance, and startup experience to the USM Maryland Momentum Fund. Throughout her career, she has created, managed, and executed successful businesses and products in the clean energy space.

Broido Johnson co-founded SunEdison in 2003, and by 2015, SunEdison was the world’s largest solar energy services provider with a $10 billion market capitalization and 7,200 employees. In 2009, she was asked to join the Department of Energy as Energy Efficiency Advisory to Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, MS, PhD, where she managed the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs and was responsible for deploying an $11 billion stimulus package.  

Johnson is an Advisory Board member of Betamore, participates in the Baltimore Angels and Blu Ventures investment groups, and routinely participates as a judge for regional business plan contests. She served as a Board Member to the Power52 Foundation, and currently sits on the boards for the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Brian D. Robertson Fund.

Johnson earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Public Policy (a degree she helped create) from Harvard University.

Claire Broido Johnson can be contacted at

David W. Wise

Entrepreneur in Residence

University of Maryland, Baltimore

David W. Wise is the Director the Maryland Momentum Fund a new initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM) to provide late seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the twelve constituent institutions of the University System or its incubators. Mr. Wise has a business career spanning over thirty years including serving eight and half years as CEO of The Genetics & IVF Institute in Fairfax, Virginia an international women's healthcare company with operations in both the US and China of which the Inova Health System was the largest shareholder. In 2014 he decided to shift the focus of his career to helping develop the innovation economy in Maryland.  Since 2014 he has been the Venture Advisor to the President of the Abell Foundation on its direct investment program.  He is also an advisor to UM Ventures and the Sinai/LifeBridge Health Bioincubator.  In addition, he is a member of the Betamore Advisory Board and of the Board of the Maryland Humanities Council and sits on the Bioscience Committee of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He has served as a business competition judge for Accelerate Baltimore, Beta City, and at both the Fischell School in College Park and their School of Medicine of the University of Maryland, among others.

In his position with the Momentum Fund Mr. Wise will be responsible for the review and due diligence and recommendations on investments by the Momentum Fund.  In addition, he in conjunction with members of the UM Ventures team, will work with these early stage companies to provide business advice and counseling to help promote their success. Mr. Wise graduated with highest honors from the University of Dayton and received a graduate degree in international business from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.