Innovation Is Everywhere.
So Are We.

Innovation Space science entrepreneurs
come from all over the world.

Innovation Space science entrepreneurs come from all over the world

In just six years since its inception in 2017, Innovation Space, located on the Experimental Station campus in Wilmington, Del., has supported and enabled more than 100 startups in their growth journeys, which in turn has raised over $1 billion in private capital and helped to create or retain more than 700 jobs.

Not only does Innovation Space of fuel the growth of science-based startups with best-in-class on-site labs and equipment, access to funding, and mentorship, but its virtual programs, like Science Inc. and Spark Factory, link scientists, business leaders, community members, investors, and service providers to help build business concepts and accelerate the path to commercialization of breakthrough innovations.

More than 45 startups from around the world—Germany, Canada, and Uruguay—and across the country—Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Washington—have cycled through the programs in the last two years.

Here are their stories:

Every year, humans ingest hundreds of thousands of synthetic microfibers and microplastics, each week possibly inhaling and ingesting enough microplastics to make up one credit card. These tiny fibers and pieces of plastic stay in our bloodstream and are harmful to ocean and aquatic life and Baleena, a Philadelphia-based portfolio company, is on a mission to change that.  


The company — co-founded and led by CEO Julia Yan and COO Sarah Beth Gleeson — are currently developing a unique filtration device that easily attaches to the inside of household washing machines to capture microfiber and microplastic emissions, to prevent pollution of waterways. The device features a protective, porous outer shell that allows water to flow through an inner filter that aims to capture more than 60% of microfibers in the water. 


“With every laundry load, microplastic fibers shed from synthetic clothing are being transported out of the home via wastewater, released into the ecosystem, and ultimately find their way into our oceans and drinking water,” Gleeson explained. “Baleena builds best-in-class, next-generation filters to tackle microplastic fiber pollution in the fashion supply chain, beginning first with home laundry.” 


It’s a passion for Yan and Gleeson, both University of Pennsylvania graduates, who were both shocked to learn that 60% of all clothing in the world is synthetic, and washing these clothes releases microfibers and microplastics into waterways, which are eaten by fish and other marine life. Baleena is also investing in education and advocacy, as well as technology, to deliver impactful change.  


“We volunteer on a lot of waterway and ocean cleanups,” Gleeson said. “We’re really trying to get out there in the local community and really drive that education strategy home.”  


Connecting with Innovation Space: 


“We found out about the Innovation Space at the 2022 Materials Research Society fall meeting at a program called iMatSci. Since working with the Innovation Space, we have received funding from the gener8tor accelerator program and the 776 Foundation. We have added people to our product launch waitlist and have a working MVP.” 


Leveraging resources for growth: 


“We participated in a program at the Innovation Space called Science Inc. which connected us to incredible mentors, a cohort of dedicated founders, and support and encouragement beyond the program. We are incredibly grateful to the Science Inc. team and continue to lean on them for connections and advice.” 


Advice to early-stage startups:  


“Know what kind of support you need and go and find it; people like to help you if you are passionate and have an awesome mission. Find people who will support you and give you honest feedback, keep talking to your customer, and have the confidence that you can figure it out. Remember that you can control the process, not the outcome, so focus on the process.”  



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Innovation comes naturally for Jason Winder, CEO of Sonogen Medical, an Innovation Space portfolio company. It runs in the family.  


Jason’s father, Al Winder, is a world-famous sonar expert who was on the original team that brought the world’s first ultrasonic bone growth stimulation device to market in 1994. Al had mostly retired, but as Jason jokes, “you can take the boy out of science, but you can’t take science out of the boy.”  


A few years ago, the elder Winder approached his son and said he thought he had figured out a better acoustic signal for fracture healing applications. The two raised a bit of money, built a prototype, and ran a proof-of-concept animal study “wherein we showed 30% better healing than the current standard of care,” Jason recalled. “Off to the races!” 


It’s a race to help the 500,000+ Americans each year who don’t heal from bone breaks and may need surgery if the breaks don’t heal; those surgeries cost $12 billion each year. The Maryland-based company has a less intrusive way to heal those bone breaks with its fracture healing device “that heals 30% better than anything available today,” Jason said. “This is a $1.4 billion dollar market, with tremendous promise in a host of adjacent multi-billion dollar markets, include spinal fusion healing, wound healing, and bone quality assessment.” 


Connecting with Innovation Space: 


“I discovered Innovation Space on Gust (an online platform for entrepreneurs) and was immediately impressed with the program. I wasn’t disappointed!” 


Leveraging resources for growth:  


The Innovation Space entrepreneurs-in-residence are fantastic, and extremely experienced in all aspects of startup management. They helped me improve my pitch deck, enhance my financials, and refine my fundraising strategy in ways that I never would have expected.”  


Advice to early-stage startups:  


“Be flexible! There are a nearly infinite number of moving parts in building a company, and fundraising alone is exceptionally complex. Ask for help, and most importantly, listen to the help you’re offered.”  


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Hartlon logo With "Extending Life Quality" tagline

HARTLON, a Delaware-based Innovation Space portfolio company, is making strides in addressing critical limb threatening ischemia (CLTI) with its innovative resorbable vascular stent. With over 20 million people worldwide suffering from CLTI and 750,000 lower limb amputations occurring due to CLTI each year, the potential impact of HARTLON’s solution is immense. 


“If left untreated or uncontrolled, CLTI can progress and amputation of the affected limb may be necessary,” HARTLON CEO Jack Scanlon said. “Our product helps reduce that risk. After the artery has healed, the HARTLON multilayer, drug-eluting resorbable vascular stent dissolves, leaving the artery open and in its natural state.” 


Connecting with Innovation Space: 


HARTLON’s journey with the Innovation Space began when they were looking for lab space in the region: “We were searching for a new place to produce prototype stents and we connected with Innovation Space. They offered the space and resources we needed to work on our prototypes.” 


Before making the leap to Innovation Space resident, HARTLON participated in both the Science Inc. virtual accelerator and Spark Factory virtual mentoring program at the Innovation Space, gaining the tools needed to secure critical funding. HARTLON won a 2022 Delaware EDGE grant that enabled the company to open a laboratory at Innovation Space and purchase equipment to make its resorbable stents for preclinical testing. 


Leveraging resources for growth: 


Working closely with the Innovation Space, HARTLON has achieved even more significant milestones since setting up their lab on-site.  “Along with our lab, Innovation Space provides access to the analytical equipment we need to add drug delivery capability to our resorbable stent. In four-and-a-half months, we have refined our manufacturing process in preparation for completion of preclinical testing of our stent.” This progress marks a crucial step towards bringing their life-changing solution to market and making a positive impact on the lives of CLTI patients worldwide. 


The HARTLON resorbable vascular stent stands out in the industry by addressing the limitations of permanent metal stents. By using resorbable polymer technology, HARTLON eliminates long-term risks associated with implanted foreign bodies, such as blood clot formation and plaque buildup on a permanent stent. Moreover, their stent’s innovative design, featuring multiple layers of film made through their patented manufacturing process, allows for thinner stents with enhanced flexibility and potential for time-released drug delivery. 


HARTLON’s dedication to innovation and their partnership with the Innovation Space have been recognized through various grants and awards. They have received two Delaware Bioscience Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) grants in collaboration with Dr. Xinqiao Jia, PhD at the University of Delaware, focusing on sterilization processes and drug delivery capability for their resorbable stent. Additionally, HARTLON was a runner-up in the Delaware BioScience Association competition as the Most Promising Life Science Company. 


With HARTLON’s mission to improve the lives of CLTI patients and the invaluable support they receive from the Innovation Space, they are on track to revolutionize the treatment of critical limb threatening ischemia. Their resorbable vascular stent offers hope for a better future, reducing amputations and restoring blood flow to those in need. As they continue their groundbreaking work, HARTLON is poised to make a lasting impact in the medical field and transform patient outcomes worldwide. 


Advice to early-stage startups:  


Reflecting on their experience, HARTLON advises early-stage startups to seek support in entrepreneurial environments like the Innovation Space.  


“If you have the resources, it helps to start your company in an entrepreneurial environment so that you can take your idea to company while learning from experienced mentors and other companies going through the same process.” 


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Jo Norris and Nick Martin, both alum of the University of Delaware and mission-driven entrepreneurs, were looking to democratize access to carbon capture technology. As they sought out the resources to bring their idea to life in the Delaware ecosystem, they discovered the Innovation Space. 


“We recognized the value of the lab space and equipment offerings, as well as the tailored support and opportunities provided by The Innovation Space,” Martin, co-founder and COO of Carbon Reform, said, “which aligned perfectly with our needs as a growing business.” 


Since its founding in 2020, Carbon Reform has focused on solving the complex challenge of carbon emissions and indoor air quality in commercial buildings. Its lead asset, the Carbon Capsule, can be retrofitted to any existing commercial HVAC system to improve indoor air quality, reduce energy consumption and minimize carbon emissions.  


“The potential impact of our solution is significant,” Martin said. “It can lead to substantial energy savings, improved health and comfort for occupants, and a substantial reduction in carbon footprint, contributing to global sustainability efforts.” 


The Innovation Space benefits 


“The resources at The Innovation Space have been instrumental in our growth as a business. The state-of-the-art lab space and equipment have provided us with the necessary infrastructure to develop and test our product effectively. We have also been involved in several programs at DISI, including Spark Factory and Science Inc., which helped us refine our go-to-market strategy and pitch to investors. Finally, we have found a lot of value in connecting with other DISI tenants – several have become current/future strategic partners and advisors.” 


Key milestones 


“Working with The Innovation Space has helped us achieve significant business milestones. We continue to make great strides with the research and development of our novel carbon capture technology within the state-of-the-art lab facilities, which has accelerated our product development timeline. Through The Innovation Space’s network and events, we have been able to showcase our solution to potential customers, investors, and industry experts, leading to customer acquisition and business growth.” 


Advice to early-stage startups 


“For early-stage startups seeking support, our advice would be to actively seek out incubators and resources like The Innovation Space that align with their industry and business needs. These spaces provide not only physical infrastructure but also invaluable guidance, mentorship, and access to networks that can significantly accelerate their growth. It’s important to fully leverage the resources available, engage with the community, and remain open to learning and adapting. Building a strong network and surrounding yourself with experienced mentors and peers can greatly enhance your chances of success.” 


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ImmunoBlue logo

Meet ImmunoBlue, a game-changing Maryland-based portfolio company spun out of George Washington University by cofounders Rohan Fernandes, PhD and Lizie Sweeney, PhD to translate their lab discoveries to patients in need. With a bold mission to develop cutting-edge nanoimmunotherapies for cancer treatment, ImmunoBlue seamlessly blends the power of nanotechnology and immunotherapy. In their relentless pursuit to bring hope to patients battling glioblastoma, the most prevalent brain tumor in the U.S., ImmunoBlue discovered an invaluable partner in the Innovation Space. 


“Glioblastoma patients face limited treatment options beyond surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, often with a bleak prognosis for survival,” said Sweeney. “Our aim is to change this narrative. By leveraging the principles of nanotechnology and immunotherapy, we are developing a novel multi-targeted and personalized T-cell therapy. This groundbreaking approach educates patients’ own immune cells to combat the disease, offering the potential for durable cures and transforming the landscape of glioblastoma treatment.” 


Connecting with Innovation Space: 


“We found Innovation Space through a connection with founder, President, and CEO Bill Provine. The moment we discovered the Innovation Space, we realized it was the perfect partner to nurture our growth and accelerate our impact.” 


Leveraging resources for growth: 


“ImmunoBlue participated in Spark Factory, an intensive month-long mentorship program at the Innovation Space that culminated in our company pitch to several entrepreneurs and investors. We worked closely with an entrepreneur-in-residence, and received valuable mentorship and guidance that helped us refine our pitch and improve both our communication and our strategy.” 


Since Spark Factory, ImmunoBlue has been working closely with clinicians to validate their novel therapeutic strategy and generate the data needed for an IND submission with the FDA to initiate a Phase I clinical trial. 


Advice to early-stage startups: 


“We recommend seeking support and advice from as many different people as possible (especially with expertise outside of your field), keeping an open mind to outside suggestions, and being willing to pivot if a different opportunity arises.” 




For Dalton Signor and his company, Miist Therapeutics, the partnership with The Innovation Space has been a fruitful one.


Signor co-founded the company while attending Villanova University, which provided Miist with its first grant funding. While a student, Signor discovered The Innovation Space before joining the inaugural cohort of the Science Inc. accelerator. Eventually, The Innovation Space provided Miist with its first private investment.


“The Innovation Space provided me with capital and mentorship through their Science Inc. program that very quickly led to new, larger opportunities with other investors on a global scale,” Signor, the company’s CEO, said. “More recently, The Innovation Space has made connections for me that have led to potential pharmaceutical development deals and a new hire to our Scientific Advisory Board, both of which are actively adding significant value to the company.”


Key milestones


“Receiving our first private investment was a big milestone for the company,” Signor said. “It provided the first real show of external confidence that was necessary to bring other investors into our pre-seed raise.


“Since then, the largest value add has certainly been in the connections they have made. The Innovation Space has connected me with investors, executives, and companies that have, in turn, significantly advanced our regulatory strategy and business development opportunities.”


Advice to early-stage startups


“One piece of advice that I would offer up to founders of early-stage startups is to say yes to all the opportunities that come your way. Make sure that you stay focused on what your business does, but when it comes to taking meetings, accepting new intros, attending pitch events, etc., say yes to everything because you never know what it will lead to. Publicity and awareness are huge for startups, and the startup world is a fairly small ecosystem where news travels fast and can lead to incredible new opportunities you have yet to even think of.”


About Miist Therapeutics


Miist Therapeutics develops inhaled treatments for both systemic and respiratory conditions. The company is currently advancing its lead asset, the Miist NRT Inhaler, into clinical development as a novel treatment for smoking addiction. With the development of this novel smoking cessation therapy, Miist is working to eliminate unwanted smoking addiction, which remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. today.


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When the co-founders of sHYp were looking for laboratory space, the Innovation Space was a natural choice. After all, co-founder and advisor Professor Daniel Esposito is a University of Delaware graduate.


Co-founder and CEO Carl Fischer wanted a location central to the major mid-Atlantic metropolitan areas and shipping ports with access to seawater and the maritime sector.  The co-founders were additionally looking for appropriately designed laboratory space for chemicals work, as well as a location that would be livable for the team they intended to hire.


“The laboratory space is exceptional,” said co-founder and CTO Lauren Greenlee. “It has allowed us to establish our primary R&D space for hydrogen and chemicals work.”


Space for R&D is critical to sHYp’s work. The company provides low-carbon dioxide footprint hydrogen at market-competitive costs for the marine and maritime sectors, and produces valuable low-CO2 co-products, such as magnesium hydroxide. The company works to solve problems of durability in implementing green hydrogen technology for ports, commercial shipping and offshore platforms.


“The green hydrogen market is projected to reach $7 billion by 2027, and is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 61%,” Greenlee said. “Selling magnesium hydroxide into the current commodities market and emerging markets of green building materials and sorbents for commercial shipping emissions reductions allows us to sell our hydrogen at $2 per kilogram, which is 60-80% lower than current commercial prices.”


Innovation Space benefits

“The Innovation Space provides us with huge value thanks to its team and all of the business development and networking resources that are available as a tenant.”


Key milestones

“We have moved our technology from technology readiness level (TRL) 3 to TRL 5 in less than six months, and we have developed process design and financial models that have allowed us to pivot to a commercialization pathway that will allow us to start generating revenue in 2024. We are also in discussions with a first customer who wants to set up a and purchasing contract with us.”


Advice to early-stage startups

“I think one of the most important things you can do is find mentors for a range of topics, but especially those that you do not have experience in — for me, that included sales development, financial analysis and modeling, pitch deck development, and generally thinking about how you develop commercialization strategy.


“Get as much help as you can from people who have real experience and knowledge around scale up, commercialization, sales contracts, and other aspects of really getting your company to first revenue.  And then listen to those people and stay focused on the fact that if you don’t get to revenue and sales, you will not succeed. And make sure you have mentors who tell you things that you don’t necessarily want to hear, but need to hear.”



Hydrogen has the potential to accelerate our transition to a clean-energy economy, but conventional production methods come with a high carbon footprint. Innovation Space portfolio company Versogen is changing that.  


Spun out of the University of Delaware by Professor Yushan Yan, Versogen’s journey with the Innovation Space started in 2019 when they won the first FastPass competition from the University of Delaware and Innovation Space and took up residency at the Innovation Space. Just four years later, Versogen has grown its team to 25, raised over $14.5 million, and is poised for expansion. 


“Innovation Space offers state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for technological innovation,” said Lan Wang, Ph.D., director of new chemistry and co-founder. “It also fosters a supportive startup community that provides mentorship, brainstorming, workshops, conferences, and funding opportunities.” 


About Versogen  


According to Wang, “Versogen offers a cost-effective solution for the production of green hydrogen by utilizing water and renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions in the energy and chemical industries.” 


By leveraging patented anion exchange membranes (AEM) and earth-abundant materials for its green hydrogen production systems, Versogen is laying the foundation for a sustainable energy future. 


Partnership with Innovation Space 


“Innovation Space gives us a warm family environment, with analytical equipment at minimum or no cost,” said Sharon Perl, Ph.D., MBA, director of membrane production. “We also have equipped and safe lab space that enables Versogen as a young company to focus on our technology without the need to worry about infrastructure.” 


Key milestones 


Thanks to the partnership with Innovation Space, Perl said Versogen was able to “develop and scale up the polymer [and membrane] production” to enable cost-effective, large-scale production leveraging standard roll manufacturing equipment.   


For Wang, the partnership with Innovation Space allowed the two-person startup to become a company of “25-plus people with increasing revenue at Innovation Space, where we developed, prototyped, scaled up our PiPerlON membranes and finished our Series A fundraising.” 


Advice to other startups 


Wang: “While focusing on your core technology and target customers, it’s important to remain agile and be prepared to pivot in order to adapt to the right market.” 


Perl: “Innovation is great and that is the base of a startup. But, make sure that you focus on inventing new ideas and not reinventing the wheel.” 


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