Mtech Ventures, a University of Maryland technology company incubator program, won a $50,000 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund competition award to support innovation in federal Opportunity Zones in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

Through the grant, Mtech Ventures is partnering with the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) and the Center for Accelerating Innovation (CAI) to organize community needs roundtables, identify promising innovations, develop entrepreneurs and build awareness of Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Tech Transfer program in low-income census tracts called federal Opportunity Zones (OZ). Maryland has 149 OZs, while the District of Columbia has 25. Federal tax incentives for new investments are available in these zones.

This SBA grant adds to Mtech Ventures’ capabilities to connect innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to the needs of OZ communities to attract more investment capital in facilities and businesses. The initial effort will be geared towards startups and projects in OZs located in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, especially around anchor institutions, research parks, innovation districts, emerging accelerators and places for growth companies to locate.

Funds will not be invested in entrepreneurs’ small businesses or projects.