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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO)


Columbia, Maryland

Project Name

mdSTEPP Program



Award Amount


Matching Amount


The mdSTEPP Program has been designed to address the problem of the small number of experienced medical device entrepreneurs in the Region by bringing together a team of medical device professionals who can lead multiple commercialization efforts in parallel using an efficient and proven commercialization process—the Stage-Gate Development Process—to train a next generation of medical device entrepreneurs and leverage the other assets in the Region to form 5-7 new medical device companies each year.  Upon completing the 18-24 month Program, these companies (“Project Companies”) will be better positioned to attract investment, hire employees, and generate revenues.

The mdSTEPP Program will create a virtual Commercialization Center: Projects will be located in geographically different places, including in many of the region’s incubators.  Medical device professionals will meet monthly at TEDCO’s offices to provide updates on the status of their projects and to engage in stage-gate meetings (i.e., go-no/go decision points).  The founders of company projects will also be asked to attend these meetings to present updates on their progress.

The overall purpose of the program is to increase the number of medical device start-up companies in the Region—especially those based on technologies developed at local research institutions, to train future medical device professionals by giving them an opportunity to work along seasoned professionals on commercialization projects, and to refine a model for commercialization that can be duplicated in other regions or for other industry verticals such as diagnostics and therapeutics.  Ultimately, the goal is to make the Region a nationally recognized hub for medical device innovation and commercialization.

The mdSTEPP Program is similar to a business accelerator in that start-up medical device companies will be selected from an applicant pool, accepted into the Program, and graduate from the Program after 18-24 months.  The Program will differ from most business accelerators in two critical ways.  First, the founders of the accepted Project Companies will have to agree to be led by a Medical Device Professional as the interim CEO while the company is in the Program; second, the Stage-Gate Process used by the Program will result in the rejection of up to half of the companies based on the outcomes of that process.  Typically, business accelerators provide mentors rather than executives and they generally do not have a mechanism for rejecting companies as part of the process.

The Program will rely primarily, but not exclusively, on the universities and hospitals for sources of novel medical device technologies.  As previously described, the universities alone generate approximately 60 new medical device technologies each year.  Others are developed by physicians, engineers, and entrepreneurs.  All would be eligible to apply for the Program.

By leveraging (i) the innovations in medical devices emerging from the Central Maryland/Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan region’s prominent medical and engineering schools including the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University and (ii) the region's significant entrepreneurial support infrastructure, the mdSTEPP Program will help significantly increase the number of successful medical device companies in Maryland.