The University System of Maryland (USM) Maryland Momentum Fund provides early investment in technology-based startup companies related to any of the 12 USM institutions; it was launched in 2017 by a $10M commitment from the USM. Momentum Fund investment helps companies bridge from early success to the next stage of growth, often a large investment, commercial launch, or commercial expansion; it generates economic impact by leveraging existing USM support for entrepreneurs, intellectual property, and innovation spaces.
It is just one way that the USM fosters economic development and technology commercialization.
The Momentum Fund helps companies move beyond grant funding and early stage seed investors to position themselves for commercial launch or to reinforce commercialization at the early revenue stage. This “late seed” stage funding anticipates a serious round of financing – an A round – often within 12-24 months. In most cases, the Momentum Fund will make investments in the range of $150K to $250K, with a maximum of $500K. These investments are equity purchases or notes that are convertible into equity.
In all cases, the financing provided by the Fund will require a 1:1 match by a third party investor. In some instances the company will not yet have all of the matching funding committed and will find value in the commitment from the Momentum Fund in raising the additional funding.
The eligibility for funding by the Momentum Fund requires some meaningful connection to the USM, but that definition is rather inclusive. Eligible companies must be located in Maryland and affiliated with a USM institution in one of the following ways:
- Based on USM intellectual property
- A founder or inventor is a USM faculty member, staff member, student, or graduate
- The company is located in a USM research park or incubator or in a RISE zone
Investments are evaluated according to the following criteria: investment return, investment round size and purpose, ability to attract follow-on investment, and support of the Maryland and the USM innovation ecosystem.