Maryland Launch Fund
The University System of Maryland (USM) Launch Fund connects early stage entrepreneurs — builders, creators, and innovators — to existing resources, mentorship, and capital. It creates a new capital source designed to fill gaps and connect to other capital and resources. The program is administered by the USM Office of Research and Economic Development.
The Maryland Launch Fund is a program committed to support USM-affiliated (for-profit or non-profit) ventures.
USM institutions include Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland Eastern Shore; University of Maryland Global Campus; University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. USM also includes 3 Regional Higher Education Institutions: Universities at Shady Grove, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland.
All recipients must have a substantial portion of its manufacturing, service, research and development, or office space located in Maryland.
There are several ways to qualify for USM affiliation:
This capital is flexible and early, in the form of grants (non-dilutive) and investments (dilutive) ranging from less than $2,000 microgrants to grants and investments of generally up to $50,000. This small, early capital is currently a key gap experienced by many individuals getting started and on their way with a venture. This critical foundational capital (including pre-venture funding, first money in, and pre-seed funding) bridges to next-step capital (including revenue/sustainability, bank financing, and seed funding). An info session was held on May 2 via Zoom. See the Info Session materials here. Note: Dilutive investments have yet to be deployed, and the strategy and parameters around are being further refined for the next round.
The spring applications window for funding for ventures has passed.
The following groups are welcome to continue to register in order to be notified of future funding opportunities:
The frequency and next deadlines have not yet been established, but will likely be late in calendar year 2023 or early in calendar year 2024. The vision is for funding to be available more frequently than twice a year (at least!) in 2024.
Societal and structural barriers can make foundational capital even more elusive for some people and types of ventures that for structural and/or historical reasons have been left out of early funding. And across the USM, the scope of new enterprises and financial needs vary substantially, as do the resources available. The USM Maryland Launch Fund holds diversity, equity, and inclusion as key values, along with transparency, and the addition of value back to all participants, applicants, awardees, and institutional partners.
The USM believes that small amounts of capital, deployed effectively alongside other resources, can generate economic impact for the state of Maryland and further USM’s values and mission – to educate and serve the people of Maryland; advance equity, justice, and opportunity; and produce the research and scholarship that improve lives. That’s why it has dedicated up to $600,000 over three years to this pilot.
The University System of Maryland comprises 12 public universities, three regional higher education centers, and more than 200,000 people—students, faculty, and staff—dedicated to pursuing knowledge, advancing discovery, improving lives, and strengthening communities across the state and around the world.