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Baltimore’s Next Innovator Incubates at Mount St. Mary’s University

Sophia Culmone, C'23, and Donna Klinger

Innovators Thunlwyn Garcia and Anthony Milazzo

Innovators Thunlwyn Garcia. at right, and Anthony Milazzo (photos by Paige Roberts, C'21, MBA'23)

Hope and promise drive Thunlwyn Garcia’s quest for innovation as he nears the completion of his studies as an entrepreneurship major at Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU), The MSMU senior's aspiration to be an innovator has resulted in a journey to build his first venture, Ascent Sporting Innovations.

garcia-in-text.jpgGarcia, a graduate of Archbishop Curley High School, excels on the soccer pitch as a forward on MSMU’s NCAA Division I soccer program. He and his teammate Anthony Milazzo, a midfielder and junior biochemistry major, noticed flaws in their performance on the pitch during adverse weather conditions. Garcia and Milazzo’s creativity and innovation led to the filing of a patent for footwear technology. The patent describes structurally sound inserts that can provide thermoregulation to alleviate pain. Their continued investigation revealed that this solution is much more broadly applicable than they first thought.

The inventors leveraged their mentors and contacts at MSMU, including faculty, students and alumni, to build a team that could bring this invention to the market. Driven by the hope that this project might be the genesis of something great, Garcia and Milazzo persevered to create Ascent Sporting Innovations and file their first patent.

“I am so impressed by our students’ innovations,” said MSMU President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “This is the magic of the Mount: faculty working with students to find the intersection of their passions and talents and carving their path to living a life of significance in service to God and others.”

As Garcia engaged in his coursework at MSMU, he saw an opportunity to integrate his studies with his passion for innovation. Through the foundational courses as an entrepreneurship major, Garcia learned the importance of having a team and worked to recruit the principal members of Ascent Sporting Innovations.

milazzo-in-text.jpgGarcia and Milazzo looked for an experienced engineer who could assist in product development with practical solutions and technical advice. Dennis Garcia, a senior nuclear engineer specializing in thermodynamics, became the first board member.

Aware that he needed help filing for intellectual property, Garcia found mentorship through Associate Professor Garth Patterson, Ph.D., former chair of the MSMU Science Department who is now the director of the Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship and a valued mentor to the Ascent Sporting Innovations team. At the time, Patterson had Milazzo as a student in his class. He helped Milazzo and Dennis Garcia with the technical development of the product as well as leveraged his experience with patents to guide Thunlwyn Garcia with filing for intellectual property protection.

To realize the product described in the patent, Garcia knew that he would need to further expand his board's technical expertise to best assist the achievement of the company's vision.

Jeffery Link, a 1999 MSMU alumnus and managing partner at Quillion Wealth Management, has become a valued addition to the board, offering trusted financial guidance to the company. Link serves on several boards throughout the Baltimore region.

Michael Wysong, CEO of CARE Pharmacies Cooperative and treasurer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), brings his expertise in developing growth strategies to the team, He is a long-time mentor to Garcia.

Once formed, the board identified the need for legal counsel and reached out to Alicia Russo, a 1986 MSMU alumna and co-chair of intellectual property at Venable LLP, a nationally recognized law firm. Russo filed the company’s first patent application.

Given the broad application of the patent, Garcia knew he and his team needed to identify the specific target markets that the product could penetrate through gathering and analysis of quantitative data. They decided to hire research interns.

Professor Nancy Kimble, MSMU MBA director with expertise in business management and marketing, identified internship candidates with the qualities needed for this project. Nathan Stricker, C’24, a business major concentrating in marketing, Mitchell Gallo, C’23, a business major concentrating in finance, and Sophia Culmone, C’23, a business major concentrating in marketing with a business analytics minor, were selected as part of the intern team to leverage their individual expertise in financial and marketing research. Garcia also hired first-year trade apprentice Samuel Yakim, a hometown friend and fellow Archbishop Curley alumnus, to help with technical development and maintenance of prototyping equipment. The MSMU interns are led by another Archbishop Curley alumnus, Anthony Dragisics, now a senior at the Villanova University School of Business and a lifelong friend of Garcia. Dragisics brings leadership and coursework experience in financial analytics to the intern team.

“The potential that this product might be the genesis of something great has been my constant inspiration for this endeavor,” Garcia said. “The passion for delivering hope and promise has only grown with this amazing team. I am proud to be a part of realizing our company's potential.”

Ascent Sporting Innovations looks to continue to grow as the start-up venture progresses toward granting of its patent and getting solutions to market. Follow Ascent's journey through its LinkedIn company page.

Sophia Culmone, C'23, and Donna Klinger