Tag: Innovation

Profiles in Innovation: Hx Innovations

Profiles in Innovation – An Ongoing Series Highlighting Delaware Innovators

Hx Innovations got off to a quick start by proving that a compelling idea that addresses a real problem – in this case, letting coaches and trainers track and manage performance and improve return-to-play plans for optimal player health and safety – can gain widespread traction.

In the last few years, Hx Innovations, the Wilmington-based biotech company has been selected as Technical.ly Delaware’s 2021 Startup Business of the Year and as a member of the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation’s Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (E3). It’s also received funding from the National Science Foundation, $50,000 in Delaware Technology Innovation Program bridge funding and $60,000 from the Startup302 pitch competition.

Chief executive officer Nicole Homer, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in logistics and holds an MBA from Liberty University, co-founded Hx with her husband, Dr. Von Homer, who developed The Homer Technique, which pinpoints the exact muscles that are susceptible to injury. The couple’s roots run deep in Delaware. Both graduated from William Penn High School in New Castle, Nicole earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware in Newark, and Von earned his doctorate and is an assistant professor at Delaware State University in Dover.

Hx’s neuromuscular technology lets coaches and trainers measure human movement analytics using artificial intelligence within a portable wireless camera, giving trainers and coaches the information they need to keep players safe and protect against sprains, strains, and joint injuries.

Hx Innovation CEO talks about Innovation in Delaware

Nicole, who was named 2022 Young Woman Professional of the Year by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, recently shared her thoughts on innovation:

Why is Delaware a great state for innovation?

You need the support of the community to grow and develop, right? Delaware was perfect for us to scale and have the collaborations and the partnerships needed to do that. Within a hundred-mile radius of Wilmington, there are more than 1 million athletes, so our target audience is right here. There are many athletic teams, colleges and professional sporting teams within a two-hour radius that could benefit from our technology.

Delaware is just small enough to make a really big impact and has great networks here that we’ve taken advantage of. Being embedded in the community, having connections with the community already and having so much reach and access to our target customer is why we decided to be here as opposed to other places we could have chosen.

What qualities should a successful innovator have?

You need to see beyond the weeds and get out of the lab. A lot of scientists really want to perfect the science. They want to perfect the product, but you can’t cross that plane of commercialization until you put it out there in the world. We found we were using too much jargon to explain “neuroergonomics” and used our first $15,000 grant to focus on getting the marketing messaging together.

You need more than one type of marketing messaging. You need a long pitch where you can have a whole conversation about what you do and dive into those details, but then have a short and snippy, boom. Our short one is “We test your movement” while our longer one is “We use computer vision technology to collect movement and our propriety software to measure neuromotor activity to help coaches and trainers evaluate player performance and injury risk.” That’s a mouthful, but there are some people who want all that.

You have to be able to go granular or broad. You also need to be able to see where you are and who you are and then find the resources that set you apart as a business innovator as well.

What advice would you give new innovators?

Take the time to brainstorm a business plan that includes sales strategy, pricing strategy and market analytics. You can have your business plan, but then you must test that hypothesis. We didn’t take into account how long that process would take. I would encourage new innovators to take the time to really do a lot of market research and then allocate time during the pre-launch stage to test your assumptions. Also, I’d advise innovators to be extremely patient and allow yourself the grace that you’ll need to grow into whatever role you’re going to ultimately become.

Around the company, I’m known as the guardian. I’m the “no” person. I say, “Let’s look at the liability and the risk and make a plan. Let’s assess the whole thing. And my co-founder is more of a “let’s just put it out and see what happens” person. I think you need both types of people to be successful.

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Profiles in Innovation: Dr. Eric Kmiec

Profiles in Innovation: Dr. Eric Kmiec of ChristianaCare

Profiles in Innovation – An Ongoing Series Highlighting Delaware Innovators

Dr. Eric Kmiec believes innovators don’t decide whether an idea is worth pursuing. The data decides.

“I’ve seen many people promote their data where they wanted it to work so badly, it consumes them, drives them into sloppy science and they end up stumbling scientifically,” says the executive director and chief scientific officer of the ChristianaCare Gene Therapy Institute and CEO of CorriXR Therapeutics, the biotech spinout whose initial focus is oncology.

“Their enthusiasm cloaks the truth; they design experiments solely to make their innovation look better, rather than doing the tougher controls to evaluate their hypothesis and try to disprove it. That’s the essence of science. I was once told by the president of the National Academy of Sciences: ‘The truth always comes out in science. Better to be early to that game than to be late.’”

Dr. Kmiec is known throughout the scientific community for his pioneering work in the fields of molecular medicine and gene editing, which is a group of technologies that enable scientists to change an organism’s DNA. He has researched and developed CRISPR-based genetic therapies for sickle cell disease and non-small cell lung cancer. He holds faculty appointments at the University of Delaware and the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and has been a National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation-supported principal investigator for 34 years.

He recently shared his views on innovation in Delaware and the path forward for innovators.

Why is Delaware a great state to be an innovator?

One of the great advantages of a state the size of Delaware is, frankly, the size of Delaware. There are a lot of collateral and productive interactions occurring daily that provide access to government officials, CEOs and state and county committees that can help guide your thoughts surrounding innovation. There are certainly advantages baked into coming from an ecosystem where there are hundreds of startups, but in those situations, you almost must be a distinct yet mature program to receive the appropriate attention to develop your innovative ideas. By contrast, here in Delaware, you can get in to see people who can evaluate the probability of success and even give you some advice on the return on investment. The state has also dedicated itself to expanding the availability of lab space for not only startups but for mezzanine-level companies and encouraging new real estate projects throughout the state for those of us who seek to expand our operations.

What qualities should a successful innovator have?

Relentlessness and a long-term belief in your ideas. I experienced a great deal of pushback in the early years of gene editing where many people believed it was just a fantasy and would never happen. I was also told that in vivo (in living cells) delivery would never occur and the whole idea of introducing biotherapeutics into the body was a dead end. Now, they are the biggest fans of the Gene Editing Institute.

What advice would you give innovators just starting?

Take your time and understand that excellent scientific ideas are often incremental advances that often do not translate into the world of application. In fact, if you are trained properly in science, you are taught to develop incremental advances, and once you or your colleagues cobble together a number of those incremental advances, you will have something that could be a significant step forward. But it takes time, and we are by design impatient, so one of the greatest flaws is that we want to push things forward because we “know” it’s right. That’s a deadly mistake. Be resolute in your belief, but also look to solve a fundamental but rather simple problem first.

I learned a hard lesson in the early days of gene editing. Good ideas need time to mature, and good things await those who are patient. As frustrating and painful and methodical as it might be, researchers must establish a foundational base for their idea. If that idea survives the constant multi-dimensional probing, then that idea will be the one worth pursuing. In addition, you need to understand that negative feedback is far more important than positive feedback.

I had to learn to be patient through the years and pioneered a lot of gene editing concepts early on. I’m still here to watch the field emerge and do great things. It’s a rewarding space for me now. Looking back, CRISPR was actually identified and studied intently in the mid-1980s, and some could argue today that those early scientists who understood the microbiology of milk fermentation actually helped in the discovery of CRISPR and they should have been part of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded in 2020. It was their work that enabled Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier to translate its use into human cells and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve also found that new innovators immediately want to start a company thinking that raising money is easy and that once they mature it for a while, they’ll become wealthy. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.

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Profiles in Innovation: Launch Point Labs

Profiles in Innovation – An Ongoing Series Highlighting Delaware Innovators

Eric Smith has known since he was 15 that he wanted to support entrepreneurs and business owners like his dad. Now 31, he’s doing just that through Wilmington-based Launch Point Labs – one of Delaware’s first startup studios that is also building an early-stage venture fund. Smith started Launch Point Labs in 2021 after stepping down as vice president at Carvertise, the Wilmington-based advertising company he helped build into a multi-million-dollar company.

Launch Point Labs provides small businesses and nonprofits access to a team of sales professionals, content creators, brand strategists, and project managers. The goal is to help entrepreneurs gain traction in their businesses while also providing financial help through a $5 million fund the company is building to invest directly in promising companies.

Launch Point Labs, which has been working to launch multiple Delaware companies in 2022, helps startups for free out of the gate. Once the startup is profitable, it can become a paying client with access to LPL resources through either a monthly fee or equity.

Here are Smith’s views on innovation in Delaware and his advice to hungry innovators.

Why is Delaware a great state to be an innovator?

Delaware is a fantastic place to start a business and is becoming a hotbed of entrepreneurship. The First State has a favorable business climate, a long history of assisting businesses and an excellent track record for supporting entrepreneurs.

The state provides a great environment for small businesses, which have provided the majority of jobs in the state (and are vital for economic growth). The state also has a strong background in science and technology, which has led to a vibrant economy and a strong environment for entrepreneurs.

What advice would you give innovators just starting?

The biggest thing I would tell any entrepreneur is to keep his or her eyes on the long-term goal. Every day, you must do something that will advance your business, but it’s important to understand that it’s a journey, not a destination. You must keep moving forward and take small steps that add up over time. Be patient. The process of building a company is long, difficult and often frustrating. It takes a lot of hard work, and the payoff is often years in the future. Focus on building a strong foundation and keep plugging away.

In your view, what qualities should a successful innovator have?

The most successful innovators are those who are passionate about their ideas, constantly learning new skills and seeking new ways to improve their businesses. They are also ones who are patient, keep moving forward and are flexible enough to change course when needed.

It takes a lot of drive and determination to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough. It also takes a strong work ethic and the ability to turn criticism into fuel to keep moving forward.

You must be creative, determined and strategic. The best innovators know that the journey is a long-term one, not a get-rich-quick scheme, so you must be comfortable being patient while you build your business.

As a leader, it’s critical to have a process for deciding which new ideas to pursue and which to set aside. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to separate the good ideas that should be expanded from the bad ones that should be cut. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and energy, and result in the same old status quo instead of the innovation the company needs. Receiving feedback and customer validation is key to determining if an idea is worth pursuing. Before you start turning your idea into a product/service, make sure you ask potential users/customers if they’re willing to use (and pay for) your idea. If yes, then what they say will reinforce your beliefs and direct you on what to do next. If no, then you must be ready to back out and try something else.

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Profiles in Innovation: Incyte

Profiles in Innovation: Incyte

Profiles in Innovation – Meet Global Biopharma Leader Incyte

In this series, Delaware leaders noted for innovation share insights on innovation. Incyte, the Delaware-based global biopharma leader, has experienced significant growth and expansion over the last two decades in its work to discover, develop and deliver breakthrough medicines for cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmunity diseases. President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chair of the Board Hervé Hoppenot shares what makes Delaware the ideal place for innovation. He also reflects on the importance of resilience, tenacity, and collaboration, especially when it comes to creating a dynamic environment that breeds innovations.

1. Why is Delaware a great state to be an innovator?

HH: At Incyte, we are happy to call Delaware home. Our roots go back to 2002 when we were founded by a small group of scientists who believed Delaware was the right place for drug discovery and development. Over the last two decades, we have received significant support from local leaders, which has helped facilitate our continued growth and expansion in the region, including a new state-of-the-art research facility that was opened this year. As the community in Delaware meaningfully embraces our work, we continue to innovate and are discovering and developing new medicines for patients right here in Wilmington. We are also driven to give back to this community that has given so much to us, and we are proud to have recently announced a five-year extension of the Incyte Cancer Care Assistance Fund for Delaware, which has provided financial assistance for Delaware cancer patients, their caregivers and family members since its inception in 2018.

2. In your view, what qualities should a successful innovator have?

HH: We believe the most powerful innovation comes from resiliency, tenacity and collaboration around a shared purpose. At Incyte, we exist to find meaningful, new solutions for patients around the world living with serious unmet medical needs. Everyone here – the Executive Team, scientists and administrators – all play a role in advancing our ability to find new solutions that can positively affect these patients’ lives. Beyond this, we believe successful innovation requires the sharing of ideas. Innovation happens when people mix. Our exceptional team of biologists and chemists work side-by-side in our labs each day and are just steps away from colleagues who help ensure our medicines get to patients who need them. This dynamic environment allows our employees to listen to and engage with one another, which helps us all breed innovation.

3. What advice would you give innovators just starting?

HH: Innovators must realize that challenges will come – there will be bad days and setbacks. However, breakthroughs take time and require patience. It is important to always keep the end goal in mind – approaching each day with resiliency and tenacity while seeking to make the world a better place. Additionally, innovators must surround themselves with inspiration and whatever tools are needed to achieve their goals. Innovation does not happen in a vacuum. At Incyte, we try to provide the environment innovators need to succeed. Oftentimes, it requires working cohesively with others toward a common goal.

Hervé Hoppenot, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Hervé Hoppenot joined Incyte in 2014 as President and Chief Executive Officer and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2015.

During Mr. Hoppenot’s tenure, the company has tripled the number of clinical candidates in its portfolio, expanding beyond Oncology to include research and development in Inflammation & Autoimmunity. Under his leadership, revenue has increased by nearly 600%. With a goal to deliver medicines to patients worldwide, Incyte has expanded geographically and has operations in North America, Europe and Asia.

Prior to joining the global biopharma leader Incyte, Mr. Hoppenot was the President of Novartis Oncology. Before joining Novartis in 2003, Mr. Hoppenot started his career in 1983 with Rhone Poulenc, later known as Aventis, where he served in several senior roles of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Oncology and Head of the U.S. Oncology business unit. Mr. Hoppenot holds a diploma from ESSEC Business School.

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BioCurie Finds Delaware Ideal for Innovation

Biocurie Aims to Help Biopharmaceutical Companies Get Ingredient Combinations ‘Right The First Time’

Software Startup Finds Delaware Ideal Location for Innovative Business to Thrive

Each year, prior to March Madness or the Super Bowl, data-analytics companies run thousands of simulations and predict which team is most likely to win. Imagine facing a complex business decision where the wrong choice could cost you millions and being able to do something similar with thousands if not millions of data simulations and identify the best option based on that data.

BioCurie, a Wilmington, Delaware-based software startup, is offering biopharmaceutical companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars and several years developing each cell and gene therapy the ability to “get it right the first time.”

“There are so many variables between ingredients, the order you put them in and the equipment settings. If you tried every permutation, it would be a total crapshoot,” says BioCurie co-founder Irene Rombel, Ph.D., MBA. “You’d never be able to do all the experiments needed to get the optimal solution.”

Rombel says BioCurie’s software “can predict the best process for manufacturing a cell and gene therapy, the ideal recipe for making high-quality product most efficiently and most cost-effectively every time. The bottom of the ‘knowledge pyramid’ is all trial-and-error machine learning where you put in data and it crunches. But when you try to apply that approach to biological problems, inevitably those models underperform because the biology is so nuanced and complex.”

BioCurie was founded in May 2021 by Rombel, a life science industry veteran whose experience spans academia, investing, consulting and the biopharma industry. Co-founder Richard Braatz, Ph.D., a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a world leader in AI, data analytics and modeling for process development and biomanufacturing. They were joined by an impressive advisory board that includes CompassRed founder Patrick Callahan.

Rombel and Braatz had a chance meeting at a National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing (NIIMBL) conference in July 2021. After a visit to MIT to investigate further, Rombel called Callahan to tell him Braatz was the perfect person to help transform the paradigm of development and manufacturing from an inefficient, labor-intensive and unpredictable state to a data-driven, intelligent and robust state that will enable faster, less costly delivery of safe and effective gene and cell therapies.

“I was involved early on with Irene and think the problem she is focused on is spot-on, transformable and has real potential to change the trajectory of the manufacturing of cell and gene therapies,” says Callahan. “Using the advances in AI on this problem is largely ignored and believe it has huge potential.”

According to Rombel, companies often must wait two or more years to get a slot at a manufacturer.

“Which is ridiculous because patients and shareholders are waiting,” she says. “And every time you have a batch failure or you miss, it’s millions of dollars and several months down the drain. Literally. Our software helps companies de-risk both from a regulatory standpoint and an execution standpoint.”

BioCurie, Rombel says, has created a “scalable model factory” that will use the cloud (SaaS) to send out its optimum “recipes” to client sites all over the world so they can faithfully reproduce the process from Site A to Site B. This will allow BioCurie to provide continuous innovation.

“You want to be able to figure out how to make these life-saving safely, swiftly and at an acceptable cost of goods,” Rombel says. “Figuring out the recipe for a cell and gene therapy is called ‘development.’ Once you have that recipe figured out, actually producing it is called ‘biomanufacturing.’ Our software addresses both parts of that value chain. The status quo today is empirical brute force – basically hit or miss with a lot of misses. And we’re the only company focused on the development and manufacturing part of the equation.”

Rombel said she founded BioCurie in Delaware because Delaware’s business-friendly environment and proximity to biopharma companies make it an ideal place for innovative businesses to thrive.

“We have NIIMBL here,” she says. “North of us in Philadelphia, we have ‘Cellicon Valley’ and the Greater Philadelphia region with all the cell and gene therapy companies. We’ve got all the big pharma just north in New Jersey. The contract manufacturers in cell and gene therapy are in Maryland. We also collaborate with the University of Delaware through one of its grant programs.”

Rombel is a Delaware resident with 20-plus years of relevant experience spanning big pharma (Janssen Pharmaceuticals, J&J), biotech (Spark Therapeutics, a gene therapy leader), consulting (founded Biomedical Intelligence, a life science consulting company), investing (public and private equities) and academia (focused on gene regulation). She’s a first-generation New Zealander, the daughter of Polish immigrants. When Poland was invaded in 1939, her father’s family was shipped off in a cattle car to a Siberian prison camp before they were taken in as refugees by New Zealand.

Evidence of the importance her parents placed on education can be found on two bookshelves of encyclopedias in her home office. Her parents bought them for her when she was 12, even though they were a working-class family and did not even own a car. Around the same time, she was inspired by the Polish Nobel laureate, Marie Curie, to pursue her passion for science.

Since then, she has earned a doctorate in biochemistry and completed stints as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and UC Davis. She also earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University while serving as a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Innovative Biopharma Companies Excel in Delaware

BioCurie has four customer targets for its “new product category”: biopharma companies, contract development and manufacturing, hospitals and academic institutions. Rombel believes “validation through partnerships” will help BioCurie acquire venture capital funding.

“We’ve also applied for an EDGE grant from the State,” she says. “That would be a great win because it would show that Delaware values us and our presence here.”

CompassRed’s Callahan says having a woman-led science and technology success that could grow this industry from the ground would be transformative for Delaware’s innovation community.

“As someone who’s been an entrepreneur in Delaware for most of my life, I would love to see her succeed here as I have,” Callahan says. “With NIIMBL here, there could be a great story that develops that reminds me of the very beginning days of DuPont, Gore and all the other leaders that believed and succeeded.”

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Resilience & Innovation: Year in Review 2021

Resilience & Innovation: Year in Review 2021

April 8, 2022 – 

Resilience & Innovation: Year in Review 2021 is DPP’s third annual report. For a snapshot of the DPP team’s accomplishments, please click on the image to view a flipbook. Comments or questions? We want to hear from you — please email scoulby@choosedelaware.com

To download a PDF copy of the Report, please click this link: Resilience & Innovation: Year in Review 2021 (PDF).

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AirGreen’s Innovative Tech in HVAC Industry

So Cool, They’re Hot

hvac industry 3rd generation design

March 31, 2022 –

HVAC Industry Air Conditioning Innovators AirGreen Ready to Grow in 2022

“Innovation” and “growth” aren’t two words you’d expect to be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. But while much of the working world either scaled back or went remote, New Castle, Delaware-based AirGreen was ramping up.

AirGreen, which manufactures an innovative twist on the concept of air conditioning, had just completed its Series A round of financing in January 2019, pitching its cheaper and more efficient process to businesses, hospitals, schools and indoor growers.

Since then, the HVAC manufacturing company has blossomed, finalizing the commercialization of its third-generation technology after demonstrating its benefits in two-year, 24/7 operations across a variety of applications. The company also earned Intertek/UL safety certifications and expanded its team with a full-time sales professional with deep expertise in the HVAC industry, an additional project engineer, and a full-time skilled fabricator/shop manager.

During the same time, AirGreen saw the installation of its new technology at a large indoor cannabis growing facility and exhibited at the AHR conference, the largest HVAC conference in North America, ranking among the top 2% in exhibitor engagement by participants.

“Our system eliminates humidity at an energy-use footprint that is a fraction of traditional mechanical cooling systems,” said CEO John Hammond.

The High Price of Cool

Anyone who’s ever sweltered through a long July day with only open windows to cool them can attest to the value of modern air conditioning.

But energy experts and building managers will tell you the cost of those comfortably cool businesses and homes is significant. Air conditioners – most of which are based on the mechanical refrigeration concept developed by Willis Carrier in the early 1900s – use about 6% of all energy produced in the United States at a cost to homeowners of about $29 billion.

Billions more are spent by businesses to cool office spaces and by the U.S. military to cool military housing in desert climates. Meanwhile, the electricity used to power the world’s air conditioning results in the production of tons of greenhouse gases.

A New Concept for the HVAC Industry

But AirGreen has been working diligently since 2013 to turn the A/C business on its head, leveraging new technology that’s cheaper and cleaner than traditional mechanical refrigeration.

AirGreen’s technology uses a closed-loop liquid desiccant system to remove moisture from the air in multiple stages while simultaneously cooling the air. The result is conditioned air that averages around 60 or 65 degrees and 40% to 50% humidity. In addition, the AirGreen system cleans the air along with cooling it, capturing and neutralizing airborne pathogens like molds, bacteria, and viruses, including COVID-19, creating an environment that’s both comfortable and healthy.

“The thing with dehumidifying using traditional systems is that it’s inefficient,” Hammond said. “In order to get the moisture out of the air, you have to cool it down to the dew point. Then, in a lot of cases you have to reheat the air before it goes back into the building.”

With the AirGreen system, Hammond estimates energy savings of 50% to 60% over traditional systems because it strips out humidity chemically and doesn’t require such significant cooling.

A Cooler Way to Grow

Hammond notes that it’s those factors that make the AirGreen system perfect for high-humidity conditions like indoor growing.

“If you’re growing things indoors, you water the plants, the plants transpire moisture into the atmosphere. And if you want your plants to grow, then you’ve got to strip moisture out of the air,” he said. “Because if the air becomes saturated, the plants’ growth slows considerably.”

Indoor growing is also a huge source of energy consumption, he notes, with the U.S. Department of Energy projecting that by 2030, the amount of energy used by indoor growing operations just for legalized cannabis will be equivalent to that of data centers or electric car charging.

“So, the ability to dehumidify in an efficient way with a low energy footprint that improves indoor air quality, we think that’s really where it’s at,” Hammond said. “And we’ve been working very hard to mature the technology and get it into the market.”

Other markets include data centers, indoor recreation facilities, indoor pools, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and cold storage, as well as warmer-climate countries with growing middle classes where as many as 3.4 billion new AC units could be installed, he said. With traditional air conditioning, the increased energy use could cancel out any prior attempts at limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

A Productive Pandemic Perfects Innovative Tech

Hammond said when the U.S. went into COVID protocols in March of 2020, he sent his team home for three weeks. “But we couldn’t do what we do with everyone sitting at home. We have to build equipment. We have to test it. We have to do the design work together,” he said. “So, we did all the right things in terms of social distancing and masking and didn’t lay anyone off. We just went to work.”

Because many other businesses shut down for longer, AirGreen had a chance to perfect its technology and catch up, he said. The support of organizations like Delaware Prosperity Partnership, whose collaborative work typify how business is conducted throughout Delaware, definitely helped.

“I think they’re much more entrepreneurial, and in turn, that makes it fit a lot more with entrepreneurial companies and industries that are trying to grow in this area,” Hammond said. “And if you need to call someone and say, ‘Hey I’ve got this issue. I’m wondering if you might know someone who might have some advice,’ it really is small, business-friendly, and you can get people to answer.”

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MRA Group Signs Lease at Chestnut Run

MRA Group Signs First Long-Term Lease at Chestnut Run Innovation & Science Park in Wilmington, Delaware

MRA Group in Wilmington DE

December 23, 2021 –

WILMINGTON, Del. – MRA Group (MRA)  announced that on November 30, 2021, it signed the first long-term lease for research and laboratory facilities at Chestnut Run Innovation & Science Park (CRISP), MRA’s recently announced life science and manufacturing campus in Wilmington, DE.

Prelude Therapeutics Incorporated (Prelude Therapeutics)  is the first major tenant at CRISP, aside from DuPont who is currently leasing approximately 190,000 square feet of space on the campus. However, according to Mike Wojewodka, MRA Group Executive Vice President and Partner, “Activity has been brisk, with a significant pipeline of prospects looking at the various options on the campus.”

“MRA’s acquisition of a significant portion of the Chestnut Run property is great news for Delaware and the state’s role in an ever-expanding life sciences sector,” said Kurt Foreman, President & CEO of Delaware Prosperity Partnership. “We can think of no better location for an innovation park than the place that includes the DuPont Company’s global headquarters. DuPont began Delaware’s tradition in breakthrough innovation and now with MRA’s acquisition that tradition will continue raising the bar for transformative developments created through scientific research.”

“Since our founding in 2016, Prelude Therapeutics has proudly contributed to the growth of an evolving biotech hub in the Wilmington area,” said Kris Vaddi, PhD, Chief Executive Officer. “We believe our planned state-of-the-art office and lab space, and centrality to a life sciences campus, will enable us to continue attracting top-tier, diverse talent to our exceptional team. We look forward to establishing our new headquarters in Chestnut Run as we continue to advance our pipeline of potentially transformative medicines for people living with underserved cancers. We thank the State of Delaware for its ongoing investment in building an entrepreneurial and connected business community.”

“This is great news,” stated Delaware BioScience Association President Michael Fleming. “Prelude Therapeutics’ decision to make their new long-term home at CRISP underlines the significant momentum and opportunity in the Delaware life sciences sector. Prelude’s new, expanded presence in that exciting site will undoubtedly be a magnet for more innovative science companies there and in other great locations, our state offers. Most importantly, we should remember this significant investment and the new jobs it has the potential to create is all focused on the hard but noble work of developing breakthrough therapies for patients with some of the most difficult and deadly cancers, and for that we should be grateful. We look forward to continuing to partner with the MRA Group to ensure CRISP flourishes as a thriving hub of scientific investment.”

“This is how we win the future,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “A homegrown, innovative advanced sciences startup is choosing to stay home, thanks to the investment of MRA Group and the collaborative efforts of state and county governments and the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

“The construction of Prelude Therapeutics’ new headquarters is included in the initial phase of MRA’s $500M redevelopment plans for the campus. Other plans include creating additional R&D laboratories, and advanced manufacturing space, as well as campus amenities such as a hotel, a fitness center, conference space, an outdoor amphitheater, and accommodations for food services including restaurants and eateries. More information regarding CRISP can be found on the campus website at www.crisp-campus.net.

Kurt Foreman


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Delaware Space Grant Consortium Launches Students into Innovation

Delaware Space Grant Consortium Launches Students into Innovation

delaware space grant program Dr. Muldrew

NASA is looking for more than a few good scientists, and Delaware is producing an abundance of them through NASA’s Space Grant program.

According to Dr. Milton Muldrow, chair of Science, Biology, and Environmental Science & Policy at Wilmington University and an associate director of the Delaware Space Grant Consortium, NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Project provides education and research resources for college-level students who have a potential future with the federal aeronautics and space agency.

NASA created the Space Grant program in 1989. Its national network includes more than 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies. These affiliates belong to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Creating a Tech-Savvy Workforce for the Future

Through the Consortium, Delaware aims to contribute to the technologically literate workforce that NASA and other STEM entities will need in the years ahead.

“The project’s mission is to produce the workforce of the future for NASA,” Muldrow said. “They do this through research engagement for college students, internships and fellowship programs.”

The objectives of Space Grant are to encourage cooperative programs among universities, the aerospace industry, and federal, state and local governments, as well as interdisciplinary education, research, and public service programs related to aerospace. Space Grant also aims to promote a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pipeline through higher education experiences. Muldrow’s introduction to the project came six years ago, when he became chair of Wilmington University’s science programs.

“After we developed science programs at Wilmington University, we immediately tried to align with Space Grant,” he said. “We wanted to offer more opportunities to our students.”

Since then, he added, several students have gotten involved and succeeded.

“My first student to receive a grant through the program created hundreds of maps of coral communities off the Florida Keys based off publicly available data,” Muldrow said. “She did amazing work.”

Interested students work with Muldrow, who submits a proposal to Space Grant based on his research goals. Students who participate in the program come away with tangible deliverables to offer potential employers in their chosen field, along with a notable affiliation.

“The name of the game, coming out of college, is no longer about just a degree,” Muldrow said. “Employers really want to see what you have done. And seeing that a potential employee has participated in a NASA project is a big deal for employers.”

The Space Grant program gives Delaware colleges and universities another means of producing valuable contributors to today’s innovation society.

“When our students get jobs at big labs and institutions, it shows the world the kind of talent we have in Delaware,” Muldrow said. “I’m just blown away every semester, not just by how intelligent the students are, but also how motivated they are.”

When students are accepted into the Space Grant program, they don’t just work on their projects. They also learn how to conduct themselves as scientists and comprehend the importance of being competitive. 

“The students learn skills such as working hard and going above and beyond because, at the end of the day, they’re competing with people globally for jobs,” Muldrow said. “Having that NASA banner next to your name is impressive, and our students go on to do great things.”

The Space Grant program also spotlights the work Delaware has contributed to the world of science and technology. Besides Wilmington University, the Delaware Space Grant Consortium includes the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, and Delaware State University. In Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College and Villanova University are participants. 

“It highlights the work that’s already being done in Delaware – work that people may not know,” Muldrow said. “Our director, Dr. William Matthaeus, is world-renowned. He helps develop satellites, including the Parker Solar Probe that launched to the sun.”

Through Space Grant, a group of Wilmington University students recently saw their work launched into space.

“The students helped to build a payload that takes various measurements while in space,” Muldrow explained. “This one went off into space from Wallops Island, Virginia, this spring. That is a national project, and to be represented on the national stage is putting Delaware innovation on the map.”

The student who produced maps of the ocean floor while still enrolled at Wilmington University was offered jobs in her field before receiving her diploma.

“She has moved up quickly,” Muldrow said. “She now works for DNREC – the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – doing exactly what she did for us: she is a GIS specialist creating maps.”

Another recent graduate entered the Space Grant program with the primary goal of working in a lab. She procured a job at Merck, a pharmaceutical company, using Space Grant as her primary experience when she graduated. And she’s already been promoted.

An additional Wilmington University alum went on to the environmental engineering program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which partners with NASA. 

“We have students participating in projects such as GIS mapping, policy research, biological research, and genetic engineering,” Muldrow said. “Our students have gone on to do some amazing things thanks to NASA’s Space Grant Project.”

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The Innovation Space™ Expands Lab and Office Space for Startups

The Innovation Space™ Expands Lab and Office Space Available to Startups

The Innovation Space expands in Delaware

September 17, 2021 – 

50,000 Sq.ft.  Of Laboratory and Office Space Available April 2022

WILMINGTON, Del. – The Innovation Space™, an ecosystem with funding, resources, and programs tailored to accelerate and scale science-based startups, announced today that 50,000 ft2 of Class A laboratory and office space will be available in April 2022. This space, located in The Innovation Space’s Wilmington, Delaware headquarter building is comprised of 33 laboratories, 76 offices, and a network of shared conference rooms, collaboration spaces and amenities. Residential clients also gain access to the Experimental Station, a secure, 24/7 supported, innovation campus with a cafeteria, fitness center, exercise classes, and critical infrastructure support resources.

The lab and office footprint aims to enable biotechnology, chemistry, and material science startups as they grow and attain key milestones for expanded facilities. The space available in April 2022 is currently occupied by a large biotechnology client and supports both the advancement of their research and development of their business. Upon this client’s graduation from The Innovation Space in early 2022, the space will be made available to the next generation of startups and scaling companies.

“We are very pleased to be able to intensify our commitment to the growth of science-based startup companies and drive economic growth,” said Bill Provine, CEO of The Innovation Space. “This space would be a perfect fit for biotech or chemistry-based companies and can support multiple smaller growth companies or be a great home for a rapidly scaling larger company.”

“The Innovation Space has been a critical partner for Prelude Therapeutics in support of our rapid growth,” said Kris Vaddi, CEO of Prelude Therapeutics. “We continue to gain value from their entrepreneur-first business focus and flexible engagement strategies which have provided us with the framework to expand our company with them from 5 employees in 2017 to over 100 employees today,” said Vaddi.

“Whether you are just starting out your journey as a science entrepreneur or are have recently raised a multi-million-dollar round of investment, you will find supportive programs and capabilities across The Innovation Space that will enable you to move your startup forward more aggressively,” said Provine. “We are an entrepreneur-first organization and have both physical assets such as leveraged scientific equipment and world-class laboratory capabilities in addition to our supportive suite of business building programs. These programs include our First Fund™ where we provide investment, our Science INC™ cohort-based accelerator where we work intensely over a four month program with early startups on their business models and connect them with partners and investors, and our Spark Factory™ mentoring program where we provide access to and advice from seasoned functional experts and business leaders.”

About The Innovation Space™:

The Innovation Space is a multi-dimensional, non-profit entrepreneurial support organization and an ecosystem where entrepreneurs, scientists, business leaders, community members, investors, and service providers in the advanced materials, industrial and agriculture biotechnology, chemical ingredients, renewable energy, nutrition, therapeutics, diagnostics, and healthcare fields can build business concepts together and accelerate the path to commercialization of each startup. The Innovation Space was formed from a public-private partnership between the State of Delaware, DuPont, and the University of Delaware. The Innovation Space™ is also known as Delaware Innovation Space™ and the Home for Science Entrepreneurs™.

Learn more: innovationspace.org; https://bit.ly/TheInnovationSpace; and www.firstfund.org.

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Global Innovation Program Partners with CSC

Delaware Prosperity Partnership Global Innovation Program Helps Companies Incorporate with Ease and Speed

WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware is recognized worldwide as a great place to do business. Now, through the Global Delaware Innovation Program in partnership with CSC, Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) is providing hands-on support to international companies looking to incorporate in the First State.

Delaware is the legal home to approximately 1.4 million business entities from around the world, including two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies. As the most business-friendly state in the nation, Delaware boasts a large community of business professionals with the experience needed to help businesses establish themselves here in Delaware.

Key advantages to doing business in Delaware include:

  • Robust infrastructure for corporate governance and intellectual property.
  • Access to lending through major financial institutions with a Delaware presence.
  • Extended hours for services offered by the Delaware Division of Corporations to accommodate filing requests and expedite services for urgent and time-sensitive matters.

“Located in the center of the largest consumer market in the United States, Delaware offers an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to enter the U.S. market,” said Kurt Foreman, DPP president and CEO. “Our Global Delaware Innovation Program makes it easier for small to mid-size companies to incorporate with ease and speed through our partners at CSC, one of the world’s premier providers of business, legal, tax, and digital brand services.”

Headquartered in Delaware since 1899, CSC has adapted to serve companies of all sizes, in every phase of the business life cycle – from startups to 90% of Fortune 500 companies, law firms and financial institutions – streamlining the way they do business across the globe. CSC helps establish, grow and maintain small-to-medium sized businesses through its incorporate.com division, which provides a wide range of business services. Companies can form entities, acquire proper business licenses, file annual reports, assign CSC as a registered agent and access entity-management platforms online at incorporate.com.

“Building and operating a successful business is a rewarding experience that demands an unwavering focus on the details of compliance, risk mitigation and technology,” said Jennifer Kenton, CSC’s executive vice president and head of marketing and customer development. “Our teams are excited to help businesses start and evolve through the DPP Global Innovation Program.”

DPP’s Global Innovation Program helps connect businesses incorporating in Delaware with the agencies and personnel necessary to complete the process. It also acquaints businesses that are exploring their options with the advantages that incorporating in Delaware would offer them.

These include:

  • Modern and flexible business laws. Delaware is known as the preeminent authority on corporate law. The Delaware General Corporation Law is the most advanced and flexible business formation statute in the United States, and Delaware’s body of business law offers companies predictability and stability.
  • An internationally respected and responsive judiciary and legal community that acts with speed. Delaware’s Court of Chancery is recognized internationally as the preeminent forum for resolving business disputes. The Court of Chancery focuses on corporate law disputes and significant business cases, with most judges issuing opinions in 90 days or less.
  • Well-developed case law. Delaware case law is frequently cited by courts throughout the United States and internationally.
  • Innovative arbitration. The Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act allows most disputes to be expertly resolved within 120 days.
  • Low costs and privacy. Annual state franchise tax is limited to approximately $300, regardless of revenue, for entities that incorporate but do not do business in Delaware. Limited liability corporations (LLCs) in Delaware also benefit from privacy not provided in many other states, with only the entity name, registered agent and filing date published.

Another benefit for those working with Delaware’s Global Innovation Program is provided by The Mill. The co-working space headquartered inside Wilmington’s Nemours Building offers Global Innovation participants a discounted rate on turnkey access for a range of products and services. These include flexible workspaces, conference rooms, phone-answering and mail services, furniture and printers.

Further details about incorporating in Delaware and the assistance available through DPP’s Global Innovation Program are at incorporate.com/choosedelaware.


About Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Delaware Prosperity Partnership leads Delaware’s economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses; to build a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem; and to support private employers in identifying, recruiting, and developing talent. The DPP team works with site selectors, executives, and developers focused on where to locate or grow a business and help with reviewing potential sites, cost-of-living analyses, and funding opportunities, including available tax credits and incentives. DPP advances a culture of innovation in Delaware, working with innovators and startups to spotlight and celebrate successes and connect them with the resources they need to succeed. DPP and its partnerships throughout Delaware support and advance the missions of companies of all sizes and sectors. For more information, visit choosedelaware.com.

About CSC

CSC® is the business behind business.® As the world’s leading provider of business, legal, tax and digital brand services to companies around the globe, CSC is the unwavering partner of 90% of Fortune 500® and more than 65% of Best Global Brands (Interbrand®) corporations, nearly 10,000 law firms and more than 3,000 financial organizations. Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, since 1899, CSC has offices throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The global company is capable of doing business wherever its clients are because it employs experts in every business it serves. For more information, visit cscglobal.com.

About incorporate.com

As the small business division of CSC®, incorporate.com supports the life cycle of entrepreneurship. In a few simple steps, entrepreneurs can start their business online as an LLC, corporation, S corporation, or nonprofit. To help companies stay on track and maintain compliance as they grow, incorporate.com offers a variety of products and corporate filing services, including registered agent service, business license services, annual reports, corporate kits, foreign qualifications, operating agreements and employer identification numbers. To learn more, visit incorporate.com.

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UD, Delaware Technology Park and Discover Bank Partner on New FinTech Building at STAR Campus

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UD, Delaware Technology Park and Discover Bank Partner on new FinTech Building at STAR Campus


Once a nearly blank canvas inviting imagination for what the university of the future may look like, the University of Delaware’s Science Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is realizing such transformation on a daily basis. Combining top academics and research with industry and community partnerships, a renewed future is shaping in real time at this intersection of discovery, education and innovation, driven by a bold vision for positive impact on the world.

UD, Delaware Technology Park (DTP) and Discover Bank will partner on the construction of a new building that continues the STAR Campus’s march into the future, adding a building block that taps into the evolving world of financial services technology — commonly called FinTech — with an eye on growth for Delaware.

Like the previous construction on STAR Campus, the six-story, 100,000-square feet structure will bring various facets of an industry together under one roof, in this case the academic, business and governmental segments of the financial world.

“Working with DTP and Discover to strengthen Delaware’s growing FinTech sector, the University of Delaware is proud to participate in this public-private partnership, continuing development of knowledge and innovations that help drive our state’s economy,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “Our University is a national leader in finance, technology and entrepreneurship, so combining our expertise and resources in these complementary fields will yield exciting opportunities for our students and faculty with meaningful impact on society.”

The new FinTech building will add immense value to Delaware’s growing prowess in financial technology. More and more financial services companies are morphing into technology companies. Global investment in FinTech-related companies rose from $18.9 billion in 2013 to $111.8 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

“We’re working hard in Delaware to support those entrepreneurs and innovators who will keep our state competitive in the 21st century economy, and drive new job creation,” Governor John Carney said. “We’re also good at working together in Delaware, and I am really pleased to see this kind of collaboration between the private sector and the University of Delaware. This partnership at the STAR Campus will help create a pipeline of skilled local talent, support our entrepreneurs, build on our strength in financial technology, and strengthen our economy over the long term.”

By constructing a hub where the financial services industry and academia intersect with technology and innovation, UD, Discover and DTP will contribute to the vitality of Delaware’s economy. UD’s research and instruction in data-related disciplines will create a highly capable workforce to feed the FinTech industry in Delaware, including the start-up businesses that will hatch, grow and spin out of the new facility.

The building will house:

  • Spaces for startups to develop and grow, managed by Delaware Technology Park. Tenants will have onsite access to business development resources and technical assistance.
  • Labs and centers associated within UD’s College of Engineering and Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. These spaces will link strengths and resources from both colleges on topics such as financial analytics, cybersecurity, human-machine learning and data analysis.
  • UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) will relocate its offices from the Delaware Technology Park’s Innovation Way location.
  • Delaware’s Small Business Development Center, which will be synergistically located to offer assistance to OEIP’s Spin In program. This program connects UD undergraduate students with community entrepreneurs and early-stage startups to give them an inside look at business innovation in action and a chance to apply what they’re learning in real-life situations.

“Delaware Technology Park is excited to launch a new building project on STAR Campus in conjunction with the University of Delaware and funded by Discover Bank,” said Mike Bowman, president and CEO of DTP. “It will contain faculty, students and entrepreneurs with outstanding data science knowledge and digital management competencies as well as support resources for business development and community education.”

The $38 million project will be funded via a favorable below market interest rate loan by Discover Bank to DTP, the owner of the building. UD will lease space in the building.

Discover Bank is currently exploring ways to partner with UD on research related to the financial technology needs of the bank that may include cyber-related technologies, and consumer data analytics, applications and behaviors. A national nonprofit focused on improving the financial health of communities, has partnered with Discover Bank to work with UD, DTP, entrepreneurs and the community on the utilization and testing of financial technologies to improve consumer financial health.

“Discover Bank is dedicated to building stronger communities, which is why we’ve championed this project with the Delaware Technology Park and the University of Delaware to expand economic opportunities, create jobs in financial services and FinTech, and promote financial health for underserved populations,” said Discover Bank President James J. Roszkowski. “The development at STAR helps us realize our vision of creating brighter financial futures for consumers as well as creating new opportunities for the business community.”

The building, which is scheduled for a 2021 opening, will mark the first sizable presence of Lerner College on the STAR Campus.

“This project will create an excellent opportunity for UD students to explore new frontiers in data-related disciplines including computer and information sciences, computer engineering and financial analytics,” UD Provost Robin Morgan said. “With a focus on setting up our students for success, the UD community will have access to new space for academic growth and the pursuit of employment opportunities in the continuously expanding FinTech industry here in Delaware.”

Potential plans and programs include a cybersecurity leadership center that would link Lerner’s cybersecurity management with the College of Engineering’s cybersecurity engineering and technology, a space for human-machine learning and social media data analysis and a multi-media studio.

Kurt Foreman


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