By Richard Hoffberg
The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) President's Entrepreneurial Fellowship program is not your ordinary academic endeavor. It's a transformative experience that brings together students from various disciplines and gives them the opportunity to collaborate to develop technology coming out of the UMB with guidance from esteemed members of the university’s technology transfer office.
This year’s cohort consisted of nine students from UMB’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Business, and Law. Students are chosen through an application process for this unique hands-on training commercializing UMB faculty’s innovations.
Students were given the choice to focus their efforts on one of two projects. We could strategize the commercialization plan of a medical device patented from research at the University or begin experiments to repurpose an FDA-approved drug. The fellowship started in November and culminated in a presentation with our collective recommendations in mid-May.
For me, the allure of intellectual property law and entrepreneurship led me to join the medical device team. As an Intellectual Property Law Track student with a keen interest in innovation, this fellowship proved to be an immensely rewarding experience. Working on such an interdisciplinary team made me refine my skills of working cohesively with people that have different priorities and abilities from my own. Each member contributed greatly in their own way, and we had to learn to effectively communicate and integrate our findings into a final presentation. While these are skills that are often practiced, this was unique for me because this was the first time I had to explain my findings to an audience that was neither a layman nor an expert on the topics I was explaining, but rather someone who was only vaguely familiar with the ideas I was presenting on. Bringing the intellectual property concepts and their importance to the team improved my ability to think abstractly and better explain their importance to people that may not find the value in them.
Drawing from my previous experiences, such as my time with TEDCO during the Summer of 2022, I was able to bring valuable knowledge about funding and early-stage companies to the team. My understanding of patent law, gained through the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic at Maryland Carey Law and my time at a patent law firm, allowed me to offer avenues that entrepreneurs should consider when thinking about receiving mentorship and/or capital, particularly within the Maryland region.
My legal studies played a pivotal role in equipping me with the necessary tools to contribute confidently to the fellowship. Courses on tech transfer, financial accounting, and patent law, among others, provided me with a solid foundation. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to contribute meaningfully to the cohort, further enhancing the collaborative spirit that drove our collective success. Under the mentorship of members of the Technology Transfer Office, this one-of-a-kind program offered a unique opportunity for students to make a tangible impact through collaboration that I was incredibly proud to be a part of.