May 29, 2023

Luginbill Takes the Helm at TechPort


Innovator Thomas Luginbill has been named director of TechPort UAS Business Incubator of Southern Maryland. Long a motivator of other entrepreneurs, in his new role he is looking to move those entrepreneurs out of their garages and launch them into the world. That launch includes introductions to large companies who have made billions of dollars but have run out of ideas.

“They get so big they sometimes forget how to innovate and do real product development,” Mr. Luginbill says of the large companies. Connecting these two entities in a safe place where they can meet, discuss and explore possibilities is his vision for Techport.

Techport is a key component of the Aviation Technology Park at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. It is located next to the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, an international presence in the field of unmanned systems. The Test Site targets the transfer of knowledge and research capabilities. As a leading voice in the civil/commercial UAS field, the Test Site has created relationships across a wide variety of stakeholders and capabilities.

S. Hunt Aero built the incubator facility as well as the UAS center. The Business Incubator is designed to house innovators in a way that encourages experimentation, fabrication, and collaboration. The facility includes work space with specialized equipment available, such as 3-D printers. The operations include link-ups to help entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality, and then into successful businesses.

“There needs to be a better way,” Mr. Luginbill says of matching up the large innovators with the cutting edge entrepreneurs. “There’s so much value in big companies meeting small companies as well as small companies meeting large ones. They both are in need of something the other party has. I have a real desire for people to have real conversation,” he says.

One such meet-up he is anxious to facilitate to with the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. “It’s a major problem for civilians getting access to base because of security,” Mr. Luginbill says. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to meet on base, TechPort has the space for these meetings to take place.

Mr. Luginbill comes to TechPort from the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata where he served as director of the Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute, was a business administration program coordinator and assistant professor. He established Velocity Center at Indian Head as a place for collaboration and innovation.

The Velocity Center and TechPort “serve a similar purpose of community engagement, county involvement and access and communication. It’s serving the community to get people together.”

Mr. Luginbill is also chairman and co-founder of Grey Matter renamed Grey Ops, a technology transfer firm established from the University of Maryland’s National Science Foundation I-Corps program and based in Dunkirk, MD, where he and his wife, Alison, own a home and a farm for geriatric horses.

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