3-D View of Innovation Reveals Missed Opportunities

$500,000 U.S. Department of Commerce Grant Funds UMD Project

September 22, 2011

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland experts in planning and economic development will create a new, sophisticated, 3-D analytical tool that 'maps' entrepreneurial and innovation networks in the State, and helps spot opportunities for new business collaborations.

A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will fund the project, as well as redevelopment assistance for Baltimore and expanded education for development professionals.

"A detailed image can help you spot possibilities, gaps and missed opportunities in business networks," says University of Maryland Urban Studies Professor Marie Howland, co-principal investigator for the grant and associate dean of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. "You can squeeze a great deal of data into this analytical format, and potentially discover unrecognized opportunities and trends."

Howland adds that it's one of the first times this kind of analysis has been applied to economic development. Her doctoral student and co-principal investigator, Scott Dempwolf, is conducting the analytical imaging research as part of his dissertation at Maryland.

It will contain a great deal of information about innovation networks in Maryland - who buys from whom, federal research contracts, patent requests, and the like. Using techniques such as Social Network Analysis, the map will aggregate thousands of separate data points.

"We're working with the UMD Human-Computer Interaction Lab to visualize this material in as accessible and revealing manner as possible," Dempwolf says. When complete, it will be available to both the public and policy makers.

"Helping entrepreneurs to network and envision the future is emblematic of our mission," says University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. "As a 21st century Land Grant institution, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development are in our DNA, and a core mission to Maryland and the nation."

As part of the new America Invents Act, and in concert with the White House, Loh, the University of Maryland and 40 other higher education institutions last week updated their commitments to collaborate with industry, investors and agencies to foster both entrepreneurship and economic development.


The federal grant also will support a new comprehensive effort to revitalize Northeast Baltimore neighborhoods surrounding the campus of Morgan State University. The goal is to transform the area into a vibrant urban community, in which the University will provide a central focus.

The University of Maryland will partner with Morgan State and community leaders and provide them with technical expertise. The Morgan State team will lead an intensive community planning process, creating a vision and implementation plan for revitalization of the area.

The grant will also expand the University's professional development program for planning and economic development practitioners. The training, offered in partnership with the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA), will help local practitioners upgrade their skills and maintain professional certifications.

"The Maryland Economic Development Association is delighted to partner with the University of Maryland on this award," says Laurie M. Boyer, president of MEDA. "The analytical tools developed by the University Center will be of service to our local, county and state economic development partners across Maryland."


The five-year, $500,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) will fund the establishment of a University Center at UMD's School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and at Morgan State University to expand opportunity and create jobs. The University of Maryland was one of 21 universities awarded University Center grants by the EDA.

Substantial portions of the grant application were developed last spring by community planning and public policy master's students at the University of Maryland for a graduate course on Technology-Led Economic Development taught by Dempwolf.

"The faculty and students who will develop this new University Center have the resources to drive the much needed innovation and economic growth our state requires today," says Dean of The University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation David Cronrath. "It is part of our continued commitment as a land-grant institution to use our resources, research and energy for a more sustainable economic future."


Maggie Haslam
School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Neil Tickner
University of Maryland Public Affairs




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