The Maryland Innovation Lab has opened startup applications and solution themes for its new corporate innovation accelerator. The first-of-its-kind accelerator in the United States is designed to position Maryland companies as leaders in corporate innovation and attract global investment to the state.

With lead funding support from the Maryland Department of Commerce, this pioneering accelerator will catalyze corporate innovation by matching state-based businesses with a global array of startups. Up to two accelerator MIL programs will be run annually, with a high-value industry selected for each cohort.

Commerce identified the state’s food industry as the focus for the inaugural cohort, zeroing in on sustainable food systems — a field of both local and global critical significance. During a recent Global Innovation Summit, the inaugural corporate participants for the MIL were unveiled as food sector and sustainability leaders: Pompeian Olive Oil, Sodexo US and SIMPLi.

Through a series of strategic interviews with these businesses, L Marks has compiled five critical themes for the cohort:

People & Workforce: Innovations that leverage workforce insights, improve employee experience and harness skilled labor.

Sustainability: Technologies setting new standards for agriculture, tracking and commercializing carbon offsets, and educating on sustainable practices.
Retail and Product Optimization: Cutting-edge solutions for understanding and tracking consumer behavior, optimizing retail and product experiences, and enhancing brand experiences.

Supply Chain/Operations: Systems that optimize supply chains and distribution processes, promote transparency and traceability, and support sustainable shipping and transportation.

Wildcard: An open call for transformative solutions in any area that can revolutionize the Maryland food sector, particularly those that support sustainable practices, address greenwashing and foster a resilient local food ecosystem.

From the applicant pool, approximately 15-20 global startups will be chosen to join a 2-day boot camp in Maryland in April 2024, collaborating directly with the participating companies. The boot camp will culminate with a competitive Pitch Day event to be held on April 4in Baltimore. At Pitch Day, startups will pitch their solutions to the participating companies for the chance to form a lasting partnership.

The MIL is a result of a public-private partnership in the state’s Global Gateway Program with the nonprofit World Trade Center Institute and L Marks, a U.K. corporate innovation specialist. Global startups are encouraged to apply for the first phase of the accelerator competition, which will take place in April 2024.
For more information about the MIL and Innovation Lab and to apply for the accelerator program, visit www.MarylandInnovationLab.com.