CEO Insights

A Breakthrough at MIT is Driving Venture Growth in Maryland

Back in 1997, Alec Dingee and Dave Staelin had an idea. 

The entrepreneurs turned academics knew their employer, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a world-class launchpad for research and innovation. They also observed that too many MIT students opted against launching a business based on their research because they didn’t think they could run a company. 

Alec and Dave wanted to change that, so they developed the Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), a free program to give local entrepreneurs unbiased advice from seasoned volunteer mentors for as long as the entrepreneurs needed it. 

They matched mentors with willing entrepreneurs to share practical, day-to-day advice on starting and running a business. Mentors were vetted for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of entrepreneurs: product development, marketing, intellectual property law, capital markets, human resources, and founders issues.

VMS Companies Have Raised $3.1 Billion

It didn’t take long for Alec’s and Dave’s phones to start ringing, and it hasn’t stopped twenty-four years later. VMS has served nearly 300 Massachusetts companies breaking new ground in genome engineering, artificial intelligence, 3D imaging, edtech, clean energy, and more. Collectively, these companies have raised more than $3.1 billion.

Now Maryland Companies Can Join VMS

The Maryland Tech Council now offers its own MIT-licenced Venture Mentor Service. Our program mirrors what made MIT’s VMS so effective: free, unbiased mentoring services from tested mentors, and a flexible arrangement that puts the entrepreneur’s schedule and needs first. We’re focused on companies in the technology and life sciences fields that are preparing to raise their first or second round of venture capital or institutional financing.

I am thrilled to report that nearly 60 Maryland ventures have joined our VMS program and teamed with 120 trained mentors with expertise in entrepreneurship, capital markets, engineering, HR, accounting, and more — all at no cost to the venture. 

Without them [VMS program], we would have had to expend significant resources or learned from trial and error which can be costly.” — Prakash Chakravarthi, CEO, Machfu

“It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself through the act of mentoring and learn about innovative science in the area through the groups you mentor. It’s also wonderful to see teams that you’ve mentored grow!  You also get to meet some great mentors and build a professional network within the area.” — Murat Kalayoglu, MD, PhD, MBA, President & CEO, Cartesian Therapeutics

I’ve been privileged to serve as a mentor to some outstanding companies in our VMS program. Let’s be clear: They own their success. Our value is to be advisors – not directors – and we learn as much from the venture executives as we hope they learn from us.

To learn how your company can benefit from the Maryland Tech Council’s Venture Mentoring Service, visit

BioCapital Life Sciences Career Fair

At the BioCapital Life Sciences Career Fair, a job application every minute

Congratulations to the Maryland life sciences community for a successful BioCapital Life Sciences Virtual Career Fair on February 18th, where 18 life sciences companies across the region met with nearly 200 job seekers in our virtual exhibit hall. In all, job seekers submitted nearly 400 job applications over the course of a six-hour career fair – that’s more than one job application every minute!

It is also nearly 400 votes for a career in life sciences in a single day. These are men and women who rightly believe a career in life sciences can improve quality of life through innovation – and quite literally save lives.

For employers, a career fair focused on life sciences proved critical. 

“At GSK, we strive to attract the best people and the BioCapital Life Sciences Career Fair allowed us to make some valuable connections. We truly enjoyed the event and loved the virtual platform. A major plus was that the fair attracted attendees at all career levels – students seeking internships, recent graduates, PhDs, and seasoned professionals. This made the event worthwhile because we could share and promote the various types of career opportunities available at GSK.” – KaShauna G. Rohlehr, MBA, PMP, Associate Director – Alliance, Program and Project Management, Rockville Biopharm, GSK

With one of the largest life sciences clusters in the nation, Maryland is at the tip of the spear for vaccine development for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Our work matters to the world, and the BioCapital Life Sciences Virtual Career Fair reaffirms that people are the guiding force behind the industry’s work.

A big thanks to the career fair’s participating employers: Kite Pharma; GSK Rockville Biopharm; ABL, Inc.; QIAGEN; SERAXIS; Immunomic Therapeutics; Cognate Bioservices; Amarex Clinical Research; Adaptive Phage Therapeutics; Trove Therapeutics; Evon Medics, LLC; EzBiome; Fina Biosolutions LLC; Hansoh Bio; Navitas Clinical Research; Origene Technologies; Salamandra; and Thrive.

Learn more about the @Maryland Tech Council’s life sciences events at