Maryland continues innovating to attract foreign investment

04/10/2024| Daniel Leaderman

Maryland continues innovating to attract foreign investment

04/10/2024 | Daniel Leaderman

Nine startup companies from around the world took part in the inaugural Maryland Innovation Lab  this month, competing for a slot in a 10-week accelerator program starting later this spring.

Selected from a pool of 600 applicants, the participating startups visited Baltimore for a two-day “boot camp,” where they received hands-on guidance and mentorship from the Maryland Innovation Lab’s corporate partners, established Maryland companies Sodexo , Pompeian  and SIMPLi .

The boot camp culminated in a pitch contest at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School  on April 4 to determine which companies will participate in the accelerator program, where startups will work closely with the lab’s corporate partners.

“The Maryland Innovation Lab recognizes that fostering and embracing new ideas requires partnership and collaboration,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson. “Established companies, new startups, government and academia can all learn from each other. This unique and forward-thinking program is bringing together the brightest minds in the sustainable food sector to address the challenges of the future.”

The Maryland Innovation Lab is a unique public-private partnership between the World Trade Center Institute , the Maryland Department of Commerce, and global innovation specialist L Marks . While innovation labs are not uncommon in the private sector, this is the first publicly funded lab in the United States; it is supported in part through Commerce’s Office of International Investment and Trade.

Each year, the lab will work with startups and Maryland companies to identify opportunities for innovation within specific industries. This inaugural cohort focused on sustainable food; the next cohort will be announced later this spring.

The nine participating startups included:

  • Orbital Farm  (Canada), a global agri tech company supplying fresh vegetables, fish, and vegan protein to local markets around the world.
  • Wholechain  (Michigan), a blockchain based traceability solution built to enable trust, coordination, and transparency in fragmented supply chains.
  • Vaayu  (Germany), the world’s first automated software empowering brands and businesses within the retail ecosystem to track and cut their carbon and environmental impact in real-time.
  • Ormex  (France), a global carbon removal Standard & Registry for sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
  • Colateral  (UK), an in-store marketing and compliance management solution for retailers and brands.
  • AssetFloow  (Portugal), the first sensorless behavioral AI software for retailers and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods.
  • Leeap Labs  (California), an AI-powered analytics solution for warehouse management.
  • PARiM  (UK), a professional staff management solution for hourly workers with more than 230,000 users.
  • Sustained  (UK), an integrated sustainability solution for food businesses working to reduce their environmental footprint.

The Maryland Innovation Lab will announce the startups moving forward to the accelerator program this month.

Maryland Commerce also announced at the April 4 event that applications were open for the fifth round of the Maryland Global Gateway Soft Landing Program. The program helps to ease an international company’s transition into the U.S. by connecting them with a variety of partnering incubators and accelerators in Maryland.

The goal of the program is to attract early-stage companies with hopes that they will establish a full-time presence in the state after the soft landing trial ends, bringing additional job creation and investment to Maryland. Eligible companies can receive up to $10,000 towards soft landing costs, including rent, business registration, and services providers. Maryland’s soft landing partners also provide services such as mentoring, matchmaking, strategic partnerships, and more.

First launched in September 2022, the Global Gateway Program has received more than 100 applications from 30+ countries on every continent. 27 companies have landed in Maryland to complete the program so far.

The program has received international attention, including in the March 2024 edition of Site Selection Magazine .

The current application round will close on Friday, May 3, 2024. Interested companies can learn more here, apply directly here, or reach out to for more information.

Photo courtesy of the World Trade Center Institute

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