Back to news

Maryland Innovation Lab Opens Startup Applications for Pioneering Food Sector Corporate Accelerator

Maryland Innovation Lab Opens Startup Applications for Pioneering Food Sector Corporate Accelerator

Accelerator Themes Selected by Inaugural Company Sponsors – Pompeian Olive Oil, Sodexo US, and SIMPLi

BALTIMORE, Maryland, United States — December 6, 2023

The Maryland Innovation Lab has officially announced the opening of startup applications for its new corporate innovation accelerator, the first-of-its-kind in the United States, designed to position Maryland companies as leaders in corporate innovation and attract global investment to the state.

This pioneering program will catalyze corporate innovation by matching Maryland-based businesses with a global array of startups, fostering solutions to tackle pressing industry challenges in the food sector.

Three leading Maryland-based food sector companies were announced as sponsors of the Lab at the World Trade Center Institute’s Global Innovation Summit in October — Pompeian Olive Oil, Sodexo US, and SIMPLi. The participating startups in this inaugural Maryland Innovation Lab will benefit from the mentorship of these three businesses, each noted for their commitment to innovation and sustainability.

The program structure is tailored for intensive collaboration and development, starting with a boot camp and competitive pitch day to be held in Baltimore, Maryland on April 3-4. At this event, between 15-20 startups from around the world will pitch their solutions to sponsoring companies for the chance to form a lasting partnership. Beginning in May, approximately five winning startups will proceed to a 10-week mentorship-driven accelerator, culminating in a demo day where startups and corporate partners celebrate their joint innovations.

Sponsor companies are seeking solutions in the following critical areas:

People & Workforce: Innovations that leverage workforce insights, improve employee experience, and harness skilled labor.
Sustainability: Technologies setting new standards for agriculture, tracking and commercializing carbon offsets, and educating on sustainable practices.
Retail and Product Optimization: Cutting-edge solutions for understanding and tracking consumer behavior, optimizing retail and product experiences, and enhancing brand experiences.
• Supply Chain / Operations: Systems that optimize supply chains and distribution processes, promote transparency and traceability, and support sustainable shipping and transportation.
• Wildcard: An open call for transformative solutions in any area that can revolutionize the Maryland food sector, particularly those that support sustainable practices, address greenwashing, and foster a resilient local food ecosystem.

The Maryland Innovation Lab is a result of a strategic public-private partnership under the State of Maryland’s Global Gateway Program, involving the Maryland Department of Commerce, the World Trade Center Institute, and L Marks, a renowned UK corporate innovation specialist. This collaboration addresses the need for agile, cross-collaborative innovation within sectors and corporations often hampered by traditional processes.

“When talented people come together to solve big problems, great things can happen. The Maryland Innovation Lab will help us address pressing challenges by connecting companies in our state with companies around the world willing to share their expertise,” said Governor Wes Moore. “L Marks and the World Trade Center Institute know the power of partnership, and their contributions to this initiative will keep Maryland’s economy competitive and drive investment in our communities.”

For more information about the Maryland Innovation Lab and to apply for the accelerator program via the L Marks application portal, The Bridge, please visit:

For media inquiries, please contact:
Kristin Lewis, Vice President of Strategic Development & Innovation
World Trade Center Institute
Tel: 814-558-3705

About World Trade Center Institute (WTCI)
The World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) is a globally recognized non-profit organization that fosters international business growth and innovation. WTCI provides startups and businesses with the resources, mentorship, and global connections needed to expand their international reach. WTCI is committed to driving economic growth, technological advancement, and global collaboration across various industries.

About L Marks
L Marks is a leading innovation specialist that has created over 100 innovation labs and collaboration programs with its partners in Europe, Asia and North America. With a track record of successful collaborations, L Marks brings startups into established corporate ecosystems to drive innovation and growth. Through their expertise and global footprint, L Marks enhances the success and impact of startups across various industries, achieving a successful deployment rate of over 70%. L Marks annually identifies 10,000 startups from more than 80 countries.

About Pompeian Olive Oil
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.

About SIMPLi
A woman-owned and minority-owned company, SIMPLi’s mission is to simplify and transform a flawed food system into one that is equitable and regenerative – good for the people, producers, and the planet. The company stands out for its commitment to plastic-free packaging for its beans, grains, legumes, superfoods, oils, and spices. In an effort to commercialize sustainable and regenerative organic farming, SIMPLi works with native farming communities around the globe to transition their land to Regenerative Organic Certified®, a method of farming that restores and regenerates the planet. SIMPLi is a leading Regenerative Organic Certified® food company with transitional organic, organic, and regenerative organic certified products offered through its food service and retail channels. Learn more about SIMPLi’s ever-expanding line of Regenerative Organic Certified® products at and @eatsimpli.

About Sodexo North America
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.