Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed more than 200 bills Thursday afternoon, including one that will present the University of Maryland with $1.5 million a year to establish a new Maryland Energy Innovation Institute on the campus.
The Maryland Clean Energy Center and the University of Maryland Energy Research Center collaborated to work out the details of the initiative, which aims to increase job opportunities and protect the environment by commercializing environmentally-friendly technology statewide, according to Eric Wachsman, director of the Energy Research Center and the Institute.
The Institute serves as a way to reduce the gap between conducting research on campus and finding real-world solutions, Wachsman said.
The Maryland Energy Innovation Fund was created to support the Institute and will be granted $1.5 million a year for five years, for a grand total of $7.5 million, according a Maryland Energy Administration budget document.
This university needs to focus on "turning research into commercially-viable technologies and creating companies and jobs, so it doesn't just end up being a laboratory project," Wachsman said. "It ends up being a technology, which goes out into the marketplace and impacts the world."
Wachsman suggested ideas like issuing grants to turn research results into prototypes, working toward manufacturing environmentally-friendly technology and providing financing to launch these technologies and companies.
"Energy security is one of our country's greatest needs, and innovation in that field has to be a priority," said Willem Klajbor, a junior economics and environmental science and policy major. "It's very exciting that the university will be playing such a large role, and I'm glad that the state government recognizes the potential of this partnership."
Wachsman said a unique aspect of the Institute is its extension beyond this university's campus.
"It's created by law in the state, and it's actually set up to be statewide — not just on the University of Maryland campus, but on all campuses in the state of Maryland," Wachsman said.
This legislation will work toward creating more green jobs, which will benefit the state both financially and environmentally, Wachsman said.
"It will link the research we're doing at the University of Maryland with financing through the Maryland Clean Energy Center … to produce more environmentally-friendly energy solutions," Wachsman said.