14 Mtech-affiliated companies named to Maryland’s list of 20 hottest innovative start-ups

news story image

Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) programs have assisted 14 of the companies named to Maryland’s Future 20, a recent list of innovative startups from various industries that have the potential to be the state’s next major business success story. 

Announced by Governor Larry Hogan in celebration of National Entrepreneur’s Day, Maryland’s Future 20 is part of Innovation Uncovered, an ongoing initiative by the Maryland Department of Commerce to highlight the state’s talented innovators, entrepreneurs, and growing small businesses. The search for the Future 20 garnered 125 nominations from the business community and general public. The list was selected based on a variety of factors, including innovation, future growth potential, the company’s Maryland story, and “wow” factor.

Mtech, an institute of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, is dedicated to entrepreneurship education, helping entrepreneurs launch successful technology ventures, and connecting Maryland-based companies with university resources to help them succeed.

Four Mtech Ventures incubator portfolio companies made the list:

  • InventWood is an advanced materials company created to commercialize the cellulose-based innovations of Liangbing Hu, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Director, Center for Materials Innovation. Hu’s research team discovered how to alter the chemistry and structure of commonly used wood to create a number of impressive discoveries such as wood that is stronger and lighter than steel—and even bulletproof. The company plans to develop a portfolio of various wood-based materials for products such as strong and tough wood for lightweight vehicles, transparent wood for windows and skylights, thermally insulative wood for higher building efficiency, clear paper for consumer electronics, and even green, wood-based batteries.

  • Medcura, founded by Fischell Department of Bioengineering Ph.D. alumnus Matthew Dowling, has developed a range of products that innovatively control bleeding using an advanced biomaterial. Medcura is a commercial-stage medical device company developing versatile hemostatic products for surgical, medical, and consumer applications. The company combines the use of safe, inert ingredients with proprietary chemistry across a broad spectrum of clinical applications. The company’s LifeFoam™ product, for example, is a self-expanding, injectable biopolymer foam that is delivered into a closed cavity to treat internal, non-specific hemorrhaging.

  • pathOtrak, launched by Fischell Institute affiliate Javier Atencia, a former Research Professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, is developing food safety technologies to rapidly detect pathogens. Current food pathogen detection technologies take an average of 24 hours, with the largest share of the time spent growing bacteria to detectable levels. PathOtrak’s award-winning technology relies on three patent-pending breakthroughs in microfiltration and elutriation, mechanical engineering, and chemistry and nano-filtration technology, in a process that goes from sample to answer in five hours. This will allow producers to get results within a single shift for the first time, allowing them to streamline operations and increase operational safety. 

  • Resensys, founded in 2008 by Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D. alumnus and Assistant Research Scientist Mehdi Kalantari Khandani, has developed ultra-low-power, wireless sensors that remotely monitor the integrity of structures such as bridges, tunnels, buildings, and dams. The company’s sensors measure strain, stress, vibration, crack activity, tilt, and temperature, after which they communicate the data to software accessed by end-users. Resensys’s sensors monitor the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as well as structures in Connecticut, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea,  Egypt, Chile, France, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Mexico. In addition to bridges, the list of structures monitored by Resensys technology includes football stadiums, historic buildings, tunnels, cranes, hydraulic presses, ships, and airplanes. 

Seven Maryland’s Future 20 companies have received Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) project awards. They include:

  • Airgility has received four total awards, including two phase 1 and two phase 2 projects. For the first project, Airgility worked with Jewel Barlow, Director of the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel, to develop flight control algorithms for the company’s HorseSHU unmanned aerial system (UAS). Airgility’s second MIPS project teamed the company with Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Timothy Horiuchi to develop a low-cost visual and sonar sensor package to autonomously guide an aerial intercept vehicle in disabling a targeted drone intruder.

  • HopFlyt worked with Department of Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Huan Xu to develop flight control logic for the company’s electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing (eVTOL) aircraft through a phase 1 MIPS project.

  • Medcura was awarded five total MIPS projects, including one phase 2.  The company worked with Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Srinivasa Raghavan for each project, on technologies including self-assembled dressings for wound care, a hemostatic bandage, and a hemostatic foam.

  • N5 Sensors garnered four MIPS projects, including two phase 2 projects. For the first two-phase MIPS project, the company worked with Thomas Murphy, Keystone Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP), to develop chip-scale chemical sensors for smartphones. For the second two-phase project, N5 Sensors worked with Pamela Abshire, a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research, to develop a digital system-on-chip carbon dioxide sensor.

  • pathOtrak, winner of one MIPS project award, collaborated with Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Srinivasa Raghavan to develop a rapid test for detecting salmonella in poultry.

  • Resensys partnered with Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Emeritus Martin Peckerar (then a professor), for one MIPS project to develop hybrid power cells for bridge health monitoring.

  • Sisu Global Health, Inc. received one MIPS project award to work with Zhongjun Jon Wu, Professor of Surgery in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, on a study to prepare the company’s 510(k) submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Hemafuse product, a manual surgical device designed as an alternative to donor blood in emerging markets. 

One Maryland’s Future 20 company resides in the Technology Ventures Building (TVB), Mtech’s second-stage incubator facility.

  • Ion Storage Systems (ISS), founded by Eric Wachsman, Director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, William L. Crentz Centennial Chair in Energy Research with appointments in both the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering, has developed solid state battery technologies that meet mission-critical needs for the defense and aerospace industries, in addition to being safer, lighter, and smaller, with potential applications in consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

Ten Maryland Future 20 companies have participated in either a DC I-Corps or UMD I-Corps cohort.

  • ACTIVEcharge is a provider of innovative wind turbine blade-monitoring hardware and software that can be sold as a service.  

  • Aidar Health is a company focused on personalized medicine developing rapid overall health assessments.

  • Airgility develops unmanned aerial systems for the defense, public safety and commercial sectors.

  • HopFlyt develops electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing (eVTOL) aircraft designed to transport urban commuters for distances under 200 miles.

  • InventWood develops cellulose-based materials that are high-quality, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable.

  • Ion Storage Systems develops high-performance, safe, and light solid state battery technologies.

  • N5 Sensors develops smart, microscale, wearable sensors to detect gas, chemicals, temperature, and humidity for a broad range of applications, including hospital and home safety, first response, industrial and petrochemical detection, and military use. 

  • pathOtrak is developing fast and reliable tests for foodborne pathogens.

  • Relavo Medical has developed a medical device that minimizes the risk of infection during in-home kidney dialysis.

  • Silfra Biosystems develops technology that converts solid waste from aquaculture systems into biogas.

Published January 13, 2021