The Maryland Innovation Lab

CONNECTING STARTUPS AND CORPORATE LEADERS TO FUEL INNOVATION

Are you a small company with big ideas? Some of Maryland’s biggest names in businesses are asking startups from across the globe to bring them innovative solutions for the food sector. The Maryland Innovation Lab is leading the matchmaking and providing guidance along the way. Maryland Innovation Lab participants will gain exposure in the U.S. for their business, while receiving mentorship from the corporate partner they’re matched with.

 

Apply Now

Maryland Innovation Lab Entry Categories

People & Workforce

People are at the heart of any great business. With this in mind, the Maryland Innovation Lab is looking to hear from startups with innovative solutions that can help us better understand our people and use this information to ensure they have the best work experience possible. If you have an innovative solution that seeks to improve the employee experience, please apply!

  • Leveraging workforce insights: solutions that gather information and insights about our workforce to better understand employee engagement and how to maximize individual employee skill sets.
  • Improving employee experience: solutions that focus on upskilling, creating opportunities for work flexibility, enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and bridging cultural and language barriers across different geographies.
  • Skilled labor: solutions that make finding skilled workers across the supply chain from farmers, drivers, operators to middle managers a breeze.

Sustainability

Maryland is committed to sustainability throughout our food sector. For this program, we are specifically looking at technology to help us lead the way in sustainability standards in agriculture and in the carbon offset market. We also want to hear from anyone with innovative solutions that can enhance sustainable practices across the food sector!

  • Tracking carbon offset and commercializing carbon credits: The world of carbon commercialization is booming and the Maryland Innovation Lab wants to be a part of it. We are looking for solutions that can help us accurately track carbon across all parts of the agricultural supply chain and can be scaled across many regions with rigorous standardization. We are also looking for solutions that can enable our farmers to take a more active role in the carbon offset market.
  • Setting sustainability standards for agriculture: We’re looking for disruptive solutions and technologies that can help provide a standardized and consistent approach to sustainable, social, and agricultural practices that can be communicated and enforced across different regions and organizations in the supply chain.
  • Sustainability education: While setting standards and carbon offsetting are our main focus, we are keen to look at all innovative sustainable solutions. More specifically this might be, the cost-effective recycling of plastic, sustainable packaging materials, disruptive solutions that track and validate sustainability claims, or educate consumers on the importance of sustainability, or consumer insights on the adoption of sustainable practices.

Retail and Product Optimization

The Maryland Innovation Lab wants to be at the forefront of developing the next generation of retail. We’re interested in solutions that can help us optimize and enhance every aspect of the retail experience. We also want to make sure that we are able to tell the story of our brands through the retail journey.  If you have a disruptive technology that can help us take the retail experience to the next level we want to hear from you!

  • Understanding and tracking consumer behavior: understand, track, and gather consumer behavior in both the B2B and B2C space to reduce the pain points in the customer journey.
  • Retail and product optimization: solutions that enhance the retail and product experience by innovating planograms, heat mapping, dynamic product pricing and promotion innovations, and assortment optimization.
  • Brand experience: solutions that enhance our brand story by leveraging consumer insights to understand key messaging,  acquire customers efficiently and cost-effectively, and increase customer education.

Optimizing Supply Chain & Distribution Processes

Maryland’s food sector is supported by a large number of complex supply chains. These incorporate everything from processing and manufacturing, distribution and logistics, through to ERP, and everything in between. All parts of this process are critical and we are interested in exploring new and innovative ways in which we can ensure it is running as efficiently and transparently as possible.

We are interested in solutions that can help our supply chains remain transparent and agile. If you have an innovation that can help us deliver end-to-end traceability across all aspects, from product origins to quality assurance, we want to hear from you!

  • Optimizing supply chain & distribution processes: solutions that optimize the individual processes and streamline operations. This might include the automation of repetitive tasks, how we process orders and manage inventories, or ways of analyzing operational or production efficiencies in order to create improvements and maximize efficiency.
  • Shipping and transporting sustainably: solutions that make shipping and transportation more eco-friendly by increasing renewable energy, and creating efficient processes.
  • Transparency and traceability: solutions that use disruptive technology to reveal high-level improvement opportunities at each step of the agricultural supply chain to deliver end-to-end traceability across all aspects, from product origins to quality assurance.

Wildcard

Our wildcard category is an opportunity for innovative start-ups to surprise us. We are always on the lookout for what we might not know we are looking for! If you have a solution that you think could help us transform the Maryland food sector, please let us know.

We are always interested in how Maryland can transform how food is produced, distributed, and consumed in the region. Innovative solutions around sustainable practices, sustainable packaging & bottling, and enhanced strategies to support local agriculture are areas of interest as well as educating consumers on the importance of sustainability.

In the pursuit of sustainable practices, as stated in other categories, Maryland is also interested in solutions to address greenwashing within their operations. They are committed to transparent and authentic environmental efforts and welcome innovative strategies to ensure their commitment to sustainability is genuine and impactful.

Our goal is to create a dynamic and resilient food ecosystem that benefits local communities, supports farmers, and aligns with modern consumer demands for sustainable, nutritious, and ethically sourced food products. If your solution can do that but doesn’t fall into one of the previous categories, apply here.

Timeline

December 6th

Applications open

Maryland Innovation Lab will begin accepting applications from global start-ups and scale-ups.

February 12th

Applications close

The application period will conclude and the Maryland Innovation Lab will close applications.

w/c April 1st

Bootcamp

Selected teams will be invited to a 2-3 day Bootcamp in Maryland to work with partners and mentors to refine their pitch, solve for unique problem areas, attend workshops, and co-create solutions.

May 2024

Program Live

A 10 week period of validation where L Marks guides collaboration between the corporate partners and the selected companies to create impactful use cases.

July 2024

Demo Day

Demo Day enables the companies to articulate learnings from the Lab and demonstrate the value they have proven. The showcase event presents the successes and learnings from the program.

The Sponsors

Pompeian Olive Oil is a trusted leader in the olive oil industry, with a history dating back to 1906. Dedicated to providing high-quality, authentic olive oils, Pompeian is committed to promoting healthier cooking choices and culinary innovation. With a focus on sustainability and responsible sourcing, Pompeian Olive Oil has earned the trust of chefs and home cooks around the world.

pompeian.com

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 53 countries. Sodexo specializes in sustainable food and valued experiences at every moment in life: learn, work, heal and play. The company employs 94,000 people at thousands of sites in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam, and indirectly supports more than 100,000 additional jobs through its annual purchases of $20B in goods and services from small to large businesses. Routinely recognized for the organization’s commitments to sustainability as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, Sodexo North America’s purpose is to create a better everyday for everyone to build a better life for all.

us.sodexo.com

SIMPLi is a CPG and B2B food company that focuses on regenerative agriculture and sustainable sourcing to improve the health of the environment, reduce farming inequalities, and eliminate fraudulent activities within the food supply chain. We work directly with international farming communities and consolidate the traditionally fragmented process to create a simple and vertical supply chain. This process allows us to have 100% traceability and a product of integrity that we are proud to share.

eatsimpli.com

As the state’s primary economic development agency, we stimulate private investment and create jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing workforce training and financial assistance to Maryland companies. Commerce also promotes the state’s many commercial advantages and its outstanding quality of life to spur economic development, international investment, trade and tourism.

commerce.maryland.gov

L Marks is a leading global innovation specialist which has created over 90 programs with its partners in Europe, Asia and North America. Founded in 2014 with an established presence in the UK and the US, L Marks has developed and delivered results-driven corporate innovation solutions, trusted by world-leading brands including BMW, Lloyd’s of London and Arsenal FC.

lmarks.com

WTCI’s main role is to leverage its network of 3,500+ innovative globally minded businesses to identify Maryland-based companies interested in participating in the lab, serve as a liaison between the companies and L Marks, and help create the strategy for each project that is part of the lab.

wtci.org