About four months after officially launching, TechPort, a technology business incubator, will be holding its first event at noon next Wednesday, May 30, the first in a series of “LunchBox Talks” geared toward educating fledging entrepreneurs.
Funded in part by the Navy and managed by the University of Maryland System, TechPort at the Airport, as it’s formally known, was established with the goal of diversifying the local economy through entrepreneurial development of unmanned autonomous systems and “commercialization of Navy technology,” according to the university.
“We can’t say we are a great place for innovation and startup tech companies without a technology incubator,” said Chris Kaselemis, director of the department of economic development. “The incubator draws in creative technology innovators and provides them with a space and the support they need to become growing businesses.”
Bradley Bartilson, the new director of TechPort, identified St. Mary’s as an area teeming with potential, given the “huge technology base, engineers” who utilize their spare time to “innovate in their basements,” all functioning within the market that is launching autonomous systems, he said.
Bartilson has led several small business ventures and also has extensive corporate experience in companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Cray Research. Bartilson said his initiative with the LunchBox Talks, of which he already has 25 planned, is to have presenters discuss various “refined” topics relevant to entrepreneurs, such as the “do’s and don’t’s of working with corporate attorneys” and unmanned autonomous vehicle policies.
“Typically, [entrepreneurs] like very concise … information,” Bartilson said. “They like to get something that’s actionable.”
The first box talk, led by Julie Lenzer, the university’s associate vice president of innovation and economic development, will focus on the funding opportunities that the school has to offer and other startup funding sources.
Bartilson commended Lenzer’s career, during which she worked at various businesses, taught graduate business classes and consulted. Lenzer has previously served as director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, and spent 2½ years as director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and senior adviser to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. She is a member of the Maryland Economic Development Commission and author of “The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business.”
Next week’s event is free and intended to be an hour long so that people can attend on their lunch breaks.
One person certain to be in attendance will be Daanish Maqbool, CEO of TechPort’s first resident business North American Wave Engine Corporation, an aerospace company and UMD startup that will utilize TechPort’s work space to develop their design for a jet engine with no moving parts.
Maqbool saw TechPort as a prime place to set up shop because the facilities address the corporation’s “unique needs.
“We’re running and developing jet engines, [we need] space and an area where noise is tolerated, [with an] experimental attitude toward aviation, a tolerant, permissive attitude toward aviation, close to a lot of other aviation activities,” Maqbool said.
Part of the reason for hosting the talks, Bartilson said, is “education.” He hopes that the planned expansion of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, located near the airport where associates will conduct relevant research, will help supply “people trained in this new technology area.”
“Look at all the elements [we have],” Bartilson said. “People, resources, education, market opportunity, existing infrastructure. … What a beautiful situation we have here.”
Those who want to attend can reserve a spot at the EventBrite website page, TechPort LunchBox Talk: Startup Funding Sources.