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WTCI and L Marks Announce Pompeian Olive Oil, Sodexo, and SIMPLi as Inaugural Partners for the Maryland Innovation Lab

BALTIMORE, MD – October 18, 2023 – At the World Trade Center Institute’s Global Innovation Summit on October 18th, World Trade Center Institute CEO Eddie Resende and L Marks CEO Daniel Saunders together announced that Baltimore-based Pompeian Olive Oil, Gaithersburg- based Sodexo US, and Baltimore-based SIMPLi as the launch partners of the highly anticipated first Maryland Innovation Lab. The theme of this cohort – Maryland’s food sector – was chosen because of the numerous challenges that the global food system is experiencing and the importance and value of this industry in Maryland.

The Maryland Innovation Lab is the first public-private partnership in the United States to attract entrepreneurial companies to the region, foster a local innovation ecosystem and support local industries and companies, identify and implement innovative solutions from across the globe. As part of the State of Maryland’s Global Gateway Program, this program is a partnership between the Maryland Department of Commerce, the World Trade Center Institute and corporate innovation specialists L Marks.

The World Trade Center Institute’s role is to leverage its network of 3,500+ innovative, globally-minded businesses to identify Maryland-based companies interested in participating in the lab. Helping set the strategy for the project, the World Trade Center Institute serves as a liaison between the Maryland-based companies and L Marks.

L Marks has created results-driven corporate innovation labs with partners in Europe, Asia, and North America, achieving a 76% average solution deployment rate and over $1.6b in follow-up investment funding raised. Over the coming months, L Marks will define the key opportunity areas for Pompeian, Sodexo, SIMPLi and the Maryland food sector, identify startups, scaleups, and innovative technologies from its network in over 80 countries, and prepare them to collaborate and develop solutions within the Maryland Innovation Lab.

Sodexo, Pompeian, and SIMPLi will engage with the selected innovative companies over a fast-paced collaboration program to be held in early 2024 before selecting the most promising to move forward into customization, pilot and implementation.

“We’re thrilled that three strong companies have been identified as partners in the first phase of the Maryland Innovation Lab. This program is a key part of our global strategy as we continue to position our state as an ideal U.S. location,” said Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson. “We are looking forward to a successful collaboration and identifying innovative ways to help grow our Maryland companies.”

“Here at Pompeian, we pride ourselves on our innovation practices. We see it as an essential part of our growth as a company,” says Jim Casey, Chief Financial Officer at Pompeian. “We look forward to collaborating with the international startups on developing solutions to make our product packaging more sustainable, launch new products, and make food supply chains more resilient.”

“I am proud that Sodexo was selected to join the Maryland Innovation Lab; this gives us the opportunity to put our broad expertise in food and our innovation culture directly at the service of the community in which we operate,” said Neta Meir, SVP Group Innovation at Sodexo. “We are the global leader in sustainable food, we believe in creating a better day for everyone and innovation is part of our DNA. It’s about continually pioneering to build better experiences for our clients and consumers, to support our employees and to enhance our contribution to the communities.”


About World Trade Center Institute (WTCI):

The World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) is a globally recognized organization that fosters international business growth and innovation. WTCI provides startups and businesses with the resources, mentorship, and global connections needed to expand their international reach. WTCI is committed to driving economic growth, technological advancement, and global collaboration across various industries.

About L Marks:

L Marks is a leading innovation specialist that has created over 100 innovation labs and collaboration programs with its partners in Europe, Asia and North America. With a track record of successful collaborations, L Marks brings startups into established corporate ecosystems to drive innovation and growth. Through their expertise and global footprint, L Marks enhances the success and impact of startups across various industries, achieving a successful deployment rate of over 70%.

About Pompeian Olive Oil:

Pompeian Olive Oil is a trusted leader in the olive oil industry, with a history dating back to 1906. Dedicated to providing high-quality, authentic olive oils, Pompeian is committed to promoting healthier cooking choices and culinary innovation. With a focus on sustainability and responsible sourcing, Pompeian Olive Oil has earned the trust of chefs and home cooks around the world.

About Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 53 countries. Sodexo specializes in sustainable food and valued experiences at every moment in life: learn, work, heal and play. The company employs 94,000 people at thousands of sites in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam, and indirectly supports more than 100,000 additional jobs through its annual purchases of $20B in goods and services from small to large businesses. Routinely recognized for the organization’s commitments to sustainability as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, Sodexo North America’s purpose is to create a better everyday for everyone to build a better life for all.

About SIMPLi

A woman-owned and minority-owned company, SIMPLi’s mission is to simplify and transform a flawed food system into one that is equitable and regenerative – good for the people, producers, and the planet. The company stands out for its commitment to plastic-free packaging for its beans, gains, legumes, superfoods, oils, and spices. In an effort to commercialize sustainable and regenerative organic farming, SIMPLi works with native farming communities around the globe to transition their land to Regenerative Organic Certified®, a method of farming that restores and regenerates the planet. SIMPLi is a leading Regenerative Organic Certified® food company with transitional organic, organic, and regenerative organic certified products offered through its food service and retail channels. Learn more about SIMPLi’s ever-expanding line of Regenerative Organic Certified® products at