Launchpad (TRL 3,4,5) - This program engages faculty and student inventors and federal lab researchers with high-potential technology. MEIA recruits 2 Energy Executives per team who drive commercialization planning with the intention of founding a company. The Startup Teams perform deep customer discovery, develop a business model canvas, and then progress to a full commercialization plan and pitch deck. The goals of the Launchpad are to validate product-market fit and to identify a CEO who will partner with the inventor to launch the business. This effort takes 4-6 months and admissions is rolling. Each team is provided $15,000 of discretionary budget to spend on EEIRs and other business-related support activities. Teams funded through the Maryland Innovation Initiative Phase 1 program may self-fund (minimum $12K) through allocation of commercialization planning funds.
MEIA's focus with Launchpad participants is to form the company and to boost the Startup's credibility with third party investors. Activities may include:
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MEIA is an innovative business creation and acceleration engine with the goal of creating new clean energy businesses in Maryland that are credible to third party investors. MEIA's services model is based on four critical success factors:
Strategic Partnerships. Unlike dotcom businesses, energy innovation businesses are capital intensive and have longer development cycles that do not fit well in established incubator or accelerator programs. These technologies must demonstrate, at scale, that they deserve to unseat the incumbent. The best way to accomplish this is to attract resources of a strategic partner such as a potential customer or an incumbent provider who already has established sales and distribution. MEIA has relationships with strategic partners who provide mentorship to its Startup Teams.
Energy Executives in Residence. Most accelerators utilize “entrepreneurs in residence” who are volunteers that give an hour per week (or per month) to provide a sounding board, share experiences, and give advice. This model does not resolve the fundamental issue of needing additional business support in order to effectively commercialize. Rather than force founders to take on uncomfortable roles or to learn business, MEIA provides each team with a budget to hire an executive team. MEIA “Energy-Executives-In-Residence” are recruited from local clean energy companies and experienced consultants, and offer discounted rates to our teams. These executives act as employees of the Startup Team to perform and deliver work products. It is hoped that some of these executives will choose to join the teams when a company is formed and funded.
Project Management. Technical founders who have developed potentially marketable technologies typically do not have significant time to devote to commercialization activities. MEIA provides a Project Manager, who is a member of MEIA's staff, to work through scheduling and milestones. The PM makes sure that founders and the EEIRs are addressing critical business issues. The PM also acts as a quality assurance check to make sure the EEIRs are offering excellent support and that the company is doing the things it needs to do be successful.
Professional Services Support. Several of Maryland's leading professional services firms have stepped up to offer in-kind services to teams such as legal, accounting, and branding. These firms help start-up teams incorporate, create operating infrastructure, and put their best foot forward when dealing with strategic partners and potential investors. Teams can utilize at no cost up to $5K of intellectual property counsel, $5K of general counsel, and $2,500 of accounting support. Branding is available at a discounted rate.
Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator
5000 College Ave., Suite 31010, College Park MD 20740