UMBC to link tech, women, business

December 2, 2004
Daily Record Business Writer

A handful of Maryland universities want to help create at least six new, technology-related startup companies by targeting women in business.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is hosting an “entrepreneurial battle” — which is being compared to the hit reality television show “The Apprentice” — among women already established in business and technology industries.

UMBC received $600,000 from the Virginia-based National Science Foundation to fund the three-year program. Other state universities partnering with UMBC include the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Towson University.

  • Wanted: female entrepreneurs (August 30, 2004)
  • “We were very excited to be awarded a grant under” the National Science Foundation, said Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of UMBC's Research and Technology Park.

    “We have been working on developing a program that would assist technology commercialization … in the state, and this grant will help us move that forward while training women entrepreneurs,” said Hemmerly, who is coordinating the program.

    About 30 women in the Baltimore-Washington area will be selected each year during the next three years. They will prepare university-created technologies for the marketplace, she said. Approximately 15 technology ideas will be chosen each year from the participating universities.

    The participants will work in teams of two during the first session of the program to conduct market research studies on an assigned technology and to determine product feasibility in the marketplace.

    In the second phase of the 10-month program, the students will create business plans for their team's technologies.

    The goal is for some of the business plans to result in business formation, Hemmerly said. Startup companies that are developed from the program could be housed at UMBC's on-campus business incubator program, techcenter@UMBC.

    The participants will receive a combination of classroom training and hands-on work experience, she said. Each of the two sessions will run for 15 weeks with about five meetings a month.

    “We are marketing this widely to women who are already out in the work force … with technical or business backgrounds,” Hemmerly said. There is no age restriction.

    “We are looking at … work experience, academic credentials, enthusiasm for this program, interest in getting involved in an entrepreneurial venture and a number of other areas.”

    The program's ultimate objective is to connect more businesswomen to entrepreneurial opportunities, said Chip Rose, a spokesman for UMBC. “Our goal is over the next three years to train 90 new women with entrepreneurial skills and hopefully create six of more startup companies in the area … without anyone hearing the dreaded words ‘You're fired,' like on “The Apprentice.”

    UMBC's incubator will hold two open house sessions on Dec. 7 and Jan. 11. Participants are expected to be chosen by late January.