Science-industry partnerships awarded for Maryland research

September 5, 2018

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researchers have received grants from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program to support new technology product development projects in Maryland. The projects, averaging $90,000 in value, each feature a collaboration between University System of Maryland faculty members and Maryland companies. Projects are jointly funded by both MIPS and participating companies. All funding goes to the university research.

“It is part of our mission to foster entrepreneurship, bringing scientists together with early- stage companies and industry to spur economic development in Maryland,” said Peter Goodwin, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “We are excited by the quality of innovation and that the list of these kinds of collaborations grows each year to the benefit of Marylanders and the environment.”

Professor Russell Hill
Professor Mike Roman

Grants from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program include:

Baltimore-based Biotrophics LLC and Institute of Marine and Enviromental Technology Professor Allen Place are measuring the biochemical composition of mealworms that are fed different diets for use in commercial insect rearing. Biotrophics plans to use this data to grow insects for aquaculture and animal feeds in a process that could be more efficient, less expensive, and more sustainable than traditional feeds, while simultaneously yielding higher protein, which in turn leads to better feeds for better meats for consumers.  

Place will also be working with Easton-based Blue Ocean Biosystems Inc. to evaluate the use of oolitic aragonite (OA), a calcium carbonate mineral similar to limestone, as a phosphorus mitigant and recovery solution, as well as identifying beneficial indigenous nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria that can colonize and proliferate in OA. Blue Ocean Biosystems plans to use OA as a potentially safe, natural, and effective agricultural soil amendment that limits phosphorus and nitrogen runoff, but could also be used for applications such as stormwater and wastewater treatment (in current facilities) and sludge digesters.

Owings Mills-based Manta Biofuel Inc. and Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology Director and Professor Russell Hill are developing specific “probiotic” bacterial strains to increase the rate of algae growth and chicken manure digestion in the company’s carbon-neutral algae-to-oil production system. The company plans to use the bacterial strains to more rapidly grow and convert algae into a direct and cost-competitive replacement for crude oil. 

Crisfield-based Metompkin Seafood Inc. and Horn Point Laboratory Director and Professor Michael Roman are evaluating the effectiveness of new and traditional techniques for rehabilitating oyster habitat bottoms in Maryland waterways. The company plans to use these methods to improve oyster grow-out, as the company sees survival from spat to adult oyster on waterway bottoms as the biggest area for improvement in the optimal production of market oysters.

MIPS is a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. MIPS leverages the resources of Maryland’s public universities to bolster the state’s economy by bringing faculty and students into collaboration with companies to develop new technology products and processes. MIPS projects expand the horizons of technology and grow Maryland’s economy by generating new technology-based jobs.