Today, bwtech@UMBC, UMBC, and the University System of Maryland (USM) announced receiving a major grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to create the Maryland New Venture Fellowship for Cybersecurity. The grant totals more than $1.3 million, with nearly $600,000 in federal funding, which will be used over a three-year period. 

The Fellowship will support the development of cybersecurity companies in Maryland, and will increase connections among technologists, mentors, and faculty at institutions across the state.

This new program will enable cybersecurity entrepreneurs to work together to create technologies and other cyber solutions that impact society, including utilities, infrastructure, and critical information systems. These entrepreneurs will include teams composed of graduate students interested in entrepreneurship, experienced entrepreneurs serving as mentors, and faculty from Maryland universities. 

Bringing new talent into a thriving sector

Maryland is home to major U.S. innovation centers in cyber and data science including the National Security Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, and U.S. Cyber Command. This program will capitalize on cyber research and development that is already happening in Maryland. It will also work to identify and address gaps, including the need for well-trained entrepreneurs with an innovative mindset and fresh perspectives, essential to Maryland maintaining its position as a leader in cybersecurity.

With these needs in mind, bwtech and USM have designed the program to empower and support diverse entrepreneurs and researchers who will create new technologies and ideas to secure the nation’s interests, and create economic opportunities and jobs. 

“Cybersecurity is one of Maryland’s most important industry sectors and a great source of economic strength for our state,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “This new initiative will support entrepreneurship and provide more incredible talent to the state’s cybersecurity workforce.” 

Immersive entrepreneurial experience 

During the first year of the grant, the Fellowship will focus on commercializing technologies at several universities within USM, including UMBC. 

“The Fellowship provides a much needed entrepreneurial resource to the faculty and technologists developing cybersecurity tools, while providing an immersive entrepreneurial experience for graduate students at UMBC and across the University System of Maryland,” says Megan Wahler, director of entrepreneurial services at bwtech@UMBC.

“Across our region, there are incredible technologies being developed in our universities to protect our infrastructure, supply chains, and our national security and we must do all we can ensure they succeed,” says Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Ph.D. ‘17, public policy.

The Fellowship program will then expand to include other Maryland institutions in the second year. In the third year, it will begin connecting with people who work at federal agencies.

“Maryland is home to some of the world’s greatest minds in cybersecurity,” says J. Thomas Sadowski ‘89, political science, USM vice chancellor for economic development. He notes, “this program will help leverage this talent, foster collaboration, facilitate new venture creation and get our ideas to market.”

Author: Megan Hanks