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Bioentrepreneurship Leader Joins UM Ventures Team

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- University of Maryland Ventures (UM Ventures) announced today that Dr. Martha J. Connolly has been named director of bioentrepreneurship, a new program supported by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) and the A. James Clark School of Engineering, designed to enhance collaboration between the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) as part of the MPowering the State initiative.

"UM Ventures creates an integrated innovation ecosystem that includes entrepreneurial support resources," said James Hughes, Chief Economic Development Officer and Vice President at UMB. "Experts like Martha help turn novel ideas into sustainable businesses, and I'm pleased to have her as part of our enterprise." 

Connolly joins the UM Ventures team whose goal is to foster entrepreneurship among faculty and students. She will lead the first-ever course in entrepreneurship on the UMB campus starting this month. Students from the schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law, social work, dentistry and the UMB graduate school are eligible. Connolly is also working closely with 16 teams of engineering students from College Park who are paired with UMB clinical faculty to define problems in healthcare, then developing products to improve patient health and clinical outcomes. Increasingly, students look at careers beyond the traditional academic research path and these courses will prepare them for careers in private industry.

"Martha Connolly is a highly regarded and proven professional in technology-based economic development in the state of Maryland," said University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan. "As one of the state's first biotechnology advocates, she helped lay the foundation for the state's now-thriving bioscience economy." 

Connolly has served as director of the Mtech Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program since 2003. MIPS is a grant program that funds and connects Maryland companies with University System of Maryland faculty to develop commercially promising technology products.

As head of MIPS, where nearly 40 percent of funding is awarded to bioscience-related projects, Connolly connected faculty with companies such as MedImmune, CSA Medical, WellDoc, PharmAthene, GenVec, Innovative Biosensors, 20/20 Gene Systems, Alba Therapeutics, A&G Pharmaceutical and Gliknik to foster development of new products.

Previous to MIPS, Connolly directed business development activities at a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, and co-founded a startup technology development and commercialization firm.

Before that, Connolly was the first-ever biotechnology advocate hired at the state level at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) to foster the state's then fledgling bioscience industry. During her time at DBED, she helped grow the Maryland bioscience community from 300 to 450 businesses.

Connolly was the first woman to graduate from The Johns Hopkins University's biomedical engineering doctoral program and was among the first class of co-eds at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Connolly worked on funded research from both the National Institutes of Health and the American Lung Association as a faculty member and director of an independent research laboratory at UMB for 11 years. She has authored 37 full-length, peer-reviewed publications in the area of cardiovascular systems physiology and bioengineering.

In 2007, the Daily Record named Connolly one of Maryland's 50 Most Influential People. In 2010, she received the President's Award from the Greater Baltimore Committee's Bioscience Alliance. In 2013, she was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

About UM Ventures
UM Ventures is an initiative to channel the tremendous technical resources and research expertise of the University of Maryland, engaging partners in industry and social ventures to expand real world impact. By encouraging students and faculty, providing expert advice and business services, more discoveries will reach the market. By engaging directly with external partners UM Ventures brings new investment, expanded markets and more start-up ventures.

About MPowering the State
The University of Maryland: MPowering the State brings together two universities of distinction to form a new collaborative partnership.  Harnessing the resources of each, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore will focus the collective expertise on critical state-wide issues of public health, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering. This collaboration will drive an even greater impact on the state, its economy, the job market, and the next generation of innovators.  The joint initiatives will have a profound effect on productivity, the economy, and the very fabric of higher education.

SOURCE University of Maryland (UM) Ventures
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