Three individuals were honored on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, as the inaugural recipients of the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This recognition reflects part of the System’s signature goal put forth in Strategic Plan 2020 to increase technology commercialization efforts across the USM. Honorees include two A. James Clark School of Engineering Professors Neil Goldsman and Martin Peckerar, both from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Scott Strome, a professor and Chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology in the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The entrepreneurial success of the honorees is reflected in the support of UM Ventures, a joint effort among the technology transfer offices at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campuses to stimulate discovery and drive commercialization efforts and new business venture development.
Goldsman and Peckerar, electrical and computer engineering professor and professor emeritus, respectively, developed an innovation derived from their efforts in researching wireless sensor networks which led to the establishment of FlexEl, LLC in 2009. Working with a talented team of researchers, they developed a novel, thin-film battery. The new batteries will make possible a number of stronger, smaller products, including wireless sensor networks, active RFID, wearable electronics and medical devices.
An unrivaled technology, these batteries can conform to the shape of virtually any object. Their flexibility also allows them to act as part of an electronic device’s packaging. The batteries can attach to microchips, sensors, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, and small electronic components. Composed of entirely environmentally friendly materials, the battery’s unique chemistry and topology provides the highest charge density of any known thin film battery. Just one millimeter thick, the high-density, rechargeable batteries gather energy from environmental sources such as solar energy, vibrations and radio waves. They can even be recharged simply by pointing a cell phone at them.
FlexEl, under the direction of current CEO Dr. Bob Proctor, employs fifteen highly paid scientists and engineers, and typically includes more than 15 undergraduate interns among the staff. The research team is a past winner of the UMD Business Plan Competition, earning $20,000 as winner of the information technology category. Team members included research associates Zeynep Dilli and Mahsa Dornajafi, and Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, a graduate student in the UMD Master’s Program in Telecommunications.
The ceremony, held in the new John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore (UB), honored the spirit of innovation and its successful fruition as entrepreneurship.
“We are delighted to recognize these three outstanding entrepreneurs. Their innovative work, and the establishment of this annual event, reflects so well on the opportunities before us as the USM makes technology commercialization a priority throughout our institutions,” said Gary L. Attman, chair of the Board of Regents Committee on Economic Development and Technology Commercialization. “We want the world to know that the USM is open for business.”
When the Board of Regents approved the USM Strategic Plan 2020, the plan cited as one priority ensuring Maryland’s competitiveness in the new economy. Among the key goals for this priority is the creation of 325 new companies in a 10-year span. The USM is well on track toward this goal.
Several sponsors made possible the inaugural Board of Regents Entrepreneur of the Year Award reception and ceremony. Those sponsors include Whiting Turner, BioHealth Innovation, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), and Corporate Office Properties Trust. Other critical sponsors are directly connected to the USM itself: the UMB Biopark; the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation, Inc.; and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation.
May 15, 2013