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UMD Selected to Lead Panel on University Ecosystems at SXSW

March 10, 2017

Holly DeArmond, 301-405-9461

College Park, Md. – The University of Maryland will host a panel on innovative urban planning at the upcoming South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. The panel, “A New Era for College Towns,” will discuss the mounting challenges universities face in moving beyond the traditional "town & gown" approach, with a focus on placemaking.

Moderated by Elana Fine, executive director of UMD’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the panel will feature UMD alumni, including Scott Plank, founder of War Horse Cities, Ken Ulman, UMD’s chief strategy officer, and Eric Golman, CEO of startup coffee company, Javazen.

The University track is new to SXSW, and UMD earned a spot on the panel after a competitive application process. The purpose of the panel is to present College Park as a test case for the ways in which public and private sector stakeholders, as well as the extended community can build an innovation ecosystem. 

"Participating in SXSW is a rare opportunity to showcase the Dingman Center and University of Maryland to a unique cross section of startups, techies, innovators and creatives,” said Fine.  “Moderating this panel gives us an opportunity to highlight the role we play as a connector between academia and the startup ecosystem."

Each panelist will share their perspectives on turning a traditional college town into a vibrant, innovative city and how others across the country can learn from their successes and failures.

“College Park is being developed by a diverse group of entrepreneurs and real estate innovators to be a world class university town," said Plank. “This type of commitment takes vision, leadership and sustained public-private partnerships as well as continual stakeholder engagement. I applaud University of Maryland officials for embracing their surrounding urban environment to collaborate and create a connected sense of place and community.”

A key example of UMD’s success in this space is the university’s Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus.

“The University of Maryland is creating an innovation ecosystem, not just within the campus walls, but throughout the surrounding College Park community,” said Ulman.

“A New Era for College Towns” will take place on March 14 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The panel discussion will highlight opportunities for entrepreneurs and showcase how a regional partnership with a university can drive growth and innovation. Details can be found at http://bit.ly/2kWECu4.

About the panelists

Scott Plank is an entrepreneur and real estate innovator, as well as the founder of War Horse, a real estate development company that focuses on urban planning. War Horse develops a diverse range of projects from retail, commercial and philanthropic public services. The firm is currently partnering with the University of Maryland to deliver an innovative food, arts and entertainment hall in the heart of the Discovery District.




Ken Ulman serves as Chief Strategy Officer for Economic Development at UMD and is President of Margrave Strategies, an innovative strategic consulting firm that provides a comprehensive array of economic development, planning and visioning services to institutions, businesses and other groups throughout the mid-­Atlantic region. Prior to starting Margrave Strategies, Ulman held public office in Howard County and took Maryland’s sixth-largest county to new heights in education, public health and economic development.




Eric Golman is Co-Founder & CEO of Javazen, a College Park, Maryland-based startup that produces healthy coffee-tea blends. Golman and his co-founders launched Javazen while students at UMD. Now in growth mode, the startup’s clients include Whole Foods, Yes Organic Market and Wegmans. Javazen is headquartered in College Park.