The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation has awarded the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) in Baltimore a three-year, $600,000 grant to initiate the Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program. This new effort has been formed to help young scientists cultivate the leadership and business skills necessary to bring their bench research into commercial markets.
The Ratcliffe Program will prepare students to work with private enterprise and to gain a more informed appreciation of the potential business implications of their research discoveries. This effort will help some students to start their own small businesses in environmental science and better prepare others for careers in large companies.
IMET is a University System of Maryland research institute involving the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Maryland Baltimore’s School of Medicine. The Ratcliffe Program builds on the Institute’s mandate to spur economic development through new scientific discoveries.
IMET is home to one of the largest groups of scientists in the world addressing marine and environmental research through molecular approaches. Eighteen research faculty and the Doctoral, Master’s and post-doctoral students working with them are engaged in innovative research using marine animals and organisms to discover new health therapies, pioneer sustainable energy resources, remediate environmental problems, and create solutions to feed the planet through sustainable aquaculture.
“This is a tremendous opportunity not only for IMET but also for investors, business people and citizens in the region who will benefit from economic development flowing from this new program,” said Russell Hill, director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology. “We are grateful to the Ratcliffe Foundation for their confidence in IMET to train young scientists in the leadership skills required to launch new companies.”
The program will include a series of short courses for scientists-in-training on key business principles such as intellectual property, venture capital development and marketing. The program will also include fellowship support for graduate students who are interested in commercializing their research. An externship program and start-up capital for new enterprise development are designed to advance new company start ups.
The program will launch in September 2014 with a small cohort of students. The program will be marketed to future graduate students across the country who are interested in pursuing degrees in environmental biotechnology.
Jim Wright, a Trustee of the Foundation noted, “We look forward to watching this new program unfold as we work together to support innovations that could lead to new businesses while also addressing critical issues in the areas of environmental remediation, human health and alternative energy development.”