Wayne Sternberger, a systems engineer at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in North Laurel, signed a licensing agreement with APL’s Tech Transfer Office for his newly formed company, BLOCKsynop.
The deal calls for Sternberger to begin commercializing the neural blockade monitor that he’s spent the last 20 years perfecting with co-inventor and business partner Dr. Robert Greenberg, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM).
Sternberger received the inaugural Archimedes Award in February through APL’s Entrepreneurial & Staff Alumni Program (AeSAP), he was ready to run with the award offerings ̶ two years of office and lab space in Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ (JHTV) FastForward innovation hubs, access to JHTV’s resources and APL benefits ̶ to commercialize his neural blockade monitor.
AeSAP, introduced to APL staff members in December 2019, enables employees to leave the lab to launch or join a startup company and return to APL within two years. Applicants can compete for the Archimedes Award to receive additional resources that will help them transition concepts into commercially viable products.
Sternberger, who had anticipated spending a few months tying up his work at APL before forging ahead with the business opportunity afforded by AeSAP and the Archimedes Award. He quickly scaled back ideas to build up his company in person and incorporated going almost entirely virtual into his evolving business plan.
“We have been fairly successful working in a virtual environment and in some cases, it has actually helped,” said Sternberger. “We were able to interview clinicians from across the U.S. for our user needs research without incorporating travel time and cost. We also recruited a medical device marketing specialist, as well as college interns from outside the area who have integrated with the team seamlessly.
Part of the Archimedes package included the I-Corps program, which Sternberger and his BLOCKsynop team completed entirely through Zoom this past May. The I-Corps program, developed by the National Science Foundation, prepares scientists and engineers to accelerate research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.
The company also earned a grant from the Columbia-based Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO).