Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program funds 18 technology research projects teaming Maryland companies, USM faculty

August 27, 2018

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program announced its funding for 18 technology product development projects in Maryland.

The projects, averaging $90,000 in value, each feature a collaboration between University System of Maryland faculty members and Maryland companies. Projects are jointly funded by both MIPS and participating companies. All MIPS funding goes to the university work and is not an endorsement of an individual company or product.

Phase 1 (new projects) include:

Baltimore-based Biotrophics LLC and Professor Allen Place, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: measuring the biochemical composition of mealworms that are fed different diets for use in commercial insect rearing. Biotrophics plans to use this data to grow insects for aquaculture and animal feeds in a process that could be more efficient, less expensive and more sustainable than traditional feeds, while simultaneously yielding higher protein, which in turn could lead to better feeds for better meats for consumers. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Easton-based Blue Ocean Biosystems Inc. and Professor Allen Place, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: evaluating the use of oolitic aragonite (OA), a calcium carbonate mineral, as a phosphorus mitigant and recovery solution, as well as identifying beneficial indigenous nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria that are willing to colonize and proliferate in OA. Blue Ocean Biosystems plans to use OA as a potentially safe and effective agricultural soil additive to limit phosphorus and nitrogen runoff, but which could also be used for applications such as stormwater and wastewater treatment (in current facilities) and sludge digesters. MIPS/company contributions: $99K/$25K

Accident-based FireFly Farms Inc. and Assistant Professor Rohan Tikekar, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences, University of Maryland: developing a food science testing laboratory in Garrett County and leveraging the laboratory’s research to develop optimized Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and quality control testing protocols for the company’s goat milk cheeses. FireFly Farms plans to use the laboratory to bring its food and safety testing in-house to support the regional and national expansion of its products, as well as to provide laboratory support to other regional agri-businesses. MIPS/company contributions: $81K /$9K

Easton-based GreenScreen LLC and Associate Professor and Chair Hoon Cha, Department of Information and Decision Sciences, Salisbury University: developing new functionalities for the company’s secure, web-based eligibility screening tool for healthcare services. GreenScreen plans to leverage the enhanced product to offer new services and expand into additional markets. MIPS/company contributions: $90K /$10K

Riverdale Park-based Ion Storage Systems LLC and Professor Eric Wachsman, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Maryland: developing casing for the company’s’ high-energy, solid-state lithium ion battery (SSLiB) cells. Ion Storage Systems plans to use the packaging to create batteries that are potentially safer (nonflammable) and lower-cost, with a high-energy density, wide operating temperature range and good high-temperature performance for aerospace and defense  applications, consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and stationary storage. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Owings Mills-based Manta Biofuel Inc. and Director and Professor Russell Hill, Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: developing specific “probiotic” bacterial strains to increase the rate of algae growth and chicken manure digestion in the company’s carbon-neutral algae-to-oil production system. The company plans to use the bacterial strains to more rapidly grow and convert algae into a direct and cost-competitive replacement for crude oil. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Bethesda-based mindandbuddy Corporation and Associate Professor Nam Sun Wang, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Maryland: developing a contact lens technology for the treatment of eye diseases. The company plans to sell the lenses as a replacement for topical eye drops in glaucoma and other disease therapies. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$15K

College Park-based North American Wave Engine Corp. and Associate Professor Robert Sanner, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland: developing an electronic control system for the company’s wave engine for jet propulsion applications. North American Wave Engine plans to sell its wave engine, which has no moving parts, as a potentially lower cost and higher performance alternative jet engine, for use in commercial transport aircraft, small/personal aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Germantown-based Primetime Life Sciences LLC and Research Associate Jocelyn Reader, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore: studying the company’s lead mutual prodrug compound, PTLS-001, with an EP4 antagonist in a xenograft model to see if using the two in combination is safer and more effective than using PTLS-001 alone. The company is developing PTLS-001, a mutual prodrug of paclitaxel and metformin, as an oral chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Baltimore-based SilcsBio LLC and Associate Dean for Research Curt Civin, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore: confirming preliminary results of the in vivo efficacy and the mechanism of action of the artemisinin-derived dimer 838 (ART838) compound, especially in combination with venetoclax and sorafenib. The company plans to use the results to develop a combination drug treatment for leukemia patients who do not respond to current therapies. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Leonardtown-based Solar Tech Inc. and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Troy Townsend, St. Mary’s College of Maryland: developing a process for printing efficient and stable solar modules using a materials printer. The company plans to use this process to ink-jet print photovoltaic modules quickly and inexpensively, potentially introducing low-cost solar cells to the marketplace. MIPS/company contributions: $32K/$3.5K

Baltimore-based VakSea Corporation and Professor Vikram Vakharia, Department of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County: optimizing an oral vaccine for Machrobrachium rosenbergii nodavirus (MrNV) and conducting a challenge study against MrNV in giant freshwater prawns. The company plans to commercialize an oral vaccine for MrNV utilizing its proprietary insect larvae production platform. MrNV infects prawn stocks, including the giant freshwater prawns. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

College Park-based VisiSonics Corporation and Associate Professor Maria Cameron, Department of Mathematics, University of Maryland: developing fast computational algorithms and high-performance software for modeling high-frequency acoustic wave fields in enclosed spaces of various geometries. The company plans to incorporate these enhancements into its RealSpace 3D engine, which is used to create personalized 3D audio playback in virtual/augmented reality, gaming, and movies on various platforms. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Phase 2 (second year) projects include:

College Park-based Airgility Inc. and Director Jewel Barlow, Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel, University of Maryland: conducting wind tunnel testing to develop flight controls for the company’s unmanned aerial system (UAS), which features a tiltrotor configuration and large lifting body capable of vertical take-off and landing, long-range cruise, and high payload capacity. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Baltimore-based ICmed LLC and Associate Professor Charlene Quinn, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore: conducting a study to determine the impact of Patient-Family Engaged Care (PFEC) on patient activation in chronic disease self-management. The study involves older adults using the company’s web/smartphone-based social platform, which allows users to control their health information and fosters patient/family/caregiver interaction with health providers. The product is designed to engage family caregivers in conjunction with patients to improve medical outcomes and lower medical costs. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

Saint Leonard-based Johnny Oysterseed LLC and Senior Lecturer Chandrasekhar Thamire, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland: testing, refining, prototyping and validating the company’s new oyster farming system. The company plans to both use and sell the oyster farming systems, which, according to the company, are scalable, cut down on work deploying, retrieving, cleaning and storing the systems, reduce the footprint to the public, promote uniform oyster growth, and could reduce farmers’ costs by up to 86 percent, enabling oyster farming part-time or as a side job. MIPS/company contributions: $140K/$10K

Crisfield-based Metompkin Seafood Inc. and Director Michael Roman, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: evaluating the effectiveness of new and traditional techniques for rehabilitating oyster habitat bottoms in Maryland waterways. The company plans to use these methods to improve oyster grow-out, as the company sees survival from spat to adult oyster on waterway bottoms as the biggest area for improvement in the optimal production of market oysters. MIPS/company contributions: $150K/$25K

Baltimore-based xMD Diagnostics LLC and Professor Edo Waks, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, University of Maryland: developing a proof-of-concept for automating the pre- and post-operational steps of using the company’s new system for extracting cells from human tissue for biopsies. xMD’s system uses common antibodies and flashes of light to lift off cells of interest rather than traditional laser or razor-based extraction methods. The company plans to sell its system for applications in cancer and personalized or precision medicine. MIPS/company contributions: $90K/$10K

This is the 62nd round of MIPS funding.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided funding during this round for the projects with Blue Ocean Biosystems, Johnny Oysterseed, Manta Biofuel and Metompkin Seafood.

MIPS is a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. MIPS leverages the resources of Maryland’s public universities to bolster the state’s economy by bringing faculty and students into collaboration with companies to develop new technology products and processes. MIPS projects expand the horizons of technology and grow Maryland’s economy by generating new technology-based jobs.