About Innov8MD

Meet the team behind the conference

Meet The Team

Innov8MD was founded in Summer 2018 after two students, one from Hopkins and one from Towson, discovered their mutual passion for entrepreneurial ecosystem development. Three weeks later, representatives from 8 local universities came together to plan the inaugural Innov8MD conference. Our team is dedicated to furthering student innovation across the state of Maryland. Meet them below:

Matthew Lowinger
President & Co-Founder

Matthew Lowinger is the Co-Founder and President of Innov8MD. He discovered a mutual passion for entrepreneurship ecosystem development and the city of Baltimore with Pava LaPere, CEO and Co-Founder of Innov8MD. The pair teamed up to launch the first-of-its-kind inter-institutional conference with 40 student-started ventures showcasing what they built. After the conference, lots of students, state-wide stakeholders, and entrepreneurs asked what is next. Pava and Matthew, with the support of the executive team, formed into a non-profit!

Matthew currently works at Bytelion, a software development company, as an Operations Coordinator. He ensures the “ship is smoothly sailing” by handling all things from product management to people operations. His background and experience comes from conducting operations for startups and small businesses in sectors including: cyber privacy, incubators/startup hubs, and management consulting.

Matthew is projected to graduate from Towson University in spring 2020 with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. He also holds a minor in Business, Communications, and Liberal Arts. Matthew is an active volunteer for Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship as a judge and mentor exciting students to launch ventures. In his free time, he enjoys experiencing the Baltimore restaurant scene and playing squash.

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Pava LaPere
CEO & Co-Founder

Pava started her career as a student at Johns Hopkins University where she founded a nonprofit, TCO Labs, meant to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem at the university. That nonprofit, which was passed to other students upon her graduation, launched an incubator and accelerator program that was brought under Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures' FastForwardU division, where Pava now works. She is passionate about education and enjoys being able to work directly with student entrepreneurs to help launch their ventures.

Pava is also the Founder & CEO of EcoMap Technologies, a company that uses artificial intelligence to map out entrepreneurial ecosystems, making it easy for entrepreneurs to find the resources they need and for economic developers to better understand their innovation sectors.

Her educational background is in Economic Sociology, which she hopes to leverage to understand how entrepreneurship can be used to build ground-up economic growth in urban areas. Pava is focused on making it as easy as possible for people to build startups, small businesses, and nonprofits, and she has fallen in love with the city of Baltimore and its emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem. In her free time, Pava enjoys weightlifting, reading, and learning to play the piano.

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Sammy Popat
Executive Team

Passionate about entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development, community engagement, and higher education, Sammy has been fortunate to serve in a role at the University of Maryland, College Park where he is able to leverage his professional experience, institutional knowledge, and infuse them with his passions. As the Campus Connector and Manager of the University’s Research Park known as the Discovery District, he is tasked with fostering greater collaboration within the campus and throughout the community, as well as supporting the Chief Innovation Officer in her vision to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem by “activating fearless ideas for transformational impact.”

Prior to his current role, Sammy spent over a dozen years working with non-profits as a development officer and as a consultant. He has also co-founded a startup, launched an independent contracting firm, connected entrepreneurial faculty to the NSF's I-Corps program, and co-facilitated design thinking courses at MICA. In his free time, he enjoys applying his creative mind to a variety of artistic endeavors from painting and writing to mixed media and photographing nature.

He currently sits on the board of OutGrowth, a Baltimore-based organization that provides experiential learning opportunities to college students by connecting them with local farms in need of their talent and fresh ideas. Sammy was recently recognized as one of the Forty-under-40 Honorees by the Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund.

He has two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park, on in Arts & Humanities (Communication) and another in Behavioral and Social Sciences (Government & Politics). Sammy also has a Master of Professional Studies in Technology Entrepreneurship from his alma mater.

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Stephanie Chin
Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship

Stephanie Chin brings a unique mix of business incubation and higher education experience as the Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Known across MICA's campus as the Entrepreneurship Evangelist, Stephanie is an alumna of Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, concentration in International Business, and a Spanish language minor. In her former role as Program Manager of the Towson University Incubator, Stephanie organized educational initiatives and the annual Business Plan Competition and served as a Specialist with Towson's Student Launch Pad. At MICA, Stephanie is committed to fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship through one on one advising support to student entrepreneurs and alums and coordination of the UP/Start Venture Competition and MICApreneurship programming.  Stephanie is also a Board Member of Baltimore Business Lending, a nonprofit organization that provides small business loans in Baltimore City, and Open Works Baltimore, a makerspace whose mission is to make tools, technology, and the knowledge to use them accessible to all.

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Jan Baum
Executive Team
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Vinicius Lepca
Executive Team

Vinicius Lepca is a junior studying Computer Science at the Johns Hopkins University an executive member of Innov8MD. Being passionate about entrepreneurship from a young age, at 15 years old he founded and served as president of a junior company in a Junior Achievement program in Brazil - where he’s from -, obtaining over 750% increase in stock value and receiving an international award from FedEx.

Alongside with his current academic endeavors, Vinicius is still very involved in Baltimore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is an executive member of TCO Labs, a JHU student organization that supports entrepreneurship on campus, where he led the organizing committee of an innovation conference that brought over 150 attendees and offered students an opportunity to engage with startups, find internships, and be inspired by successful.

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Our Mission

Maryland is home to a robust set of academic institutions, many of which have renowned programs for student entrepreneurship. But without deep collaboration between these institutions, there is a tremendous amount of lost opportunity.


By creating a platform where the leaders of university entrepreneurial ecosystems can share ideas, cross promote programs, and collaborate on events, Innov8MD is working to support student entrepreneurs across the state of Maryland, regardless of their age or institutional affiliation (even if they are not enrolled in one).


Additionally, Innov8MD aims to bridge the gap between Maryland’s greater entrepreneurial community and those of our universities. This way, we can foster deeper connections between students and our cities, promoting talent retention and encouraging diverse conversations.

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