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State Venture Fund Leader Leaving to Head University of Maryland Biotech Startup Effort

The Baltimore Business Journal

Elizabeth Good is leaving her role as managing director of the Maryland Venture Fund to take a newly created position as director of strategic investments at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

The university created the post specifically for Good, 34, who will help university researchers develop relationships with private companies and find funding for biotech startup businesses.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development plans to name a new managing director for its taxpayer-backed venture capital fund by the end of September. Ray Dizon, a principal with DBED, is a front-runner for the job, said DBED Deputy Secretary Christopher Foster. Outside candidates are also being considered, Foster said.

University of Maryland is working to pair its faculty with entrepreneurs who are interested in building companies based on technology developed at the school, said James Hughes, vice president of research and development with University of Maryland. The university is trying to increase its number of successful startups, Hughes said.

"Elizabeth will really be ushering those companies through the first year or two of life," he said.

Good comes from a scientific background. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering and worked in product development for a startup medical diagnostic company.

Finding university research with commercial potential and matching it with private sector partners has proven to be a tantalizing but challenging prospect -- for campus administrators and entrepreneurs and business development officials in the role Good will soon occupy.

Johns Hopkins University hired venture capitalist Nora Zietz in 2003 to head a new technology commercialization program. She left the university last September to return to the private sector. Local industry observers speculated Zietz left in part due to frustration with the slow nature of academic bureaucracy.

Hughes brushed aside concerns that the model would not work at University of Maryland. "We have very high expectations," he said.

Good, who has worked for Maryland's venture fund for six years, ran the fund since 2004. She said watching companies succeed was the most rewarding part of running the $6 million fund, whose portfolio includes 85 to 100 companies.

The venture fund started overseeing the Maryland Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit Program on July 1. The $6 million investment program to finance early-stage private biotech companies based in Maryland doubled Good's administrative duties, she said.

The venture fund was established in 1994 to make direct equity investments in early-stage high-tech companies in the state. Since Good took the reins in 2004, the fund earned national recognition from Entrepreneur Magazine as the third-best fund in the nation by deal flow.

Balancing the venture funds workload will be her successor's biggest challenge, Good said.

Good's last day as managing director will be Sept. 27. She will start her new position at University of Maryland, Baltimore on Oct. 9.