By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDbizMedia
Entrepreneurs, investors and academics gathered at the University of Maryland, College Park on Friday to launch Startup Maryland, an effort to support and showcase Maryland’s emerging companies.
Michael Binko, one of Startup’s chief architects as well as the president and CEO of kloudtrack in Annapolis, called the group the “connective tissue” that will help entrepreneurs raise capital, find other resources, make connections in the business community and celebrate their successes.
“Maryland has so many resources … but they’re in silos,” said Julie Lenzer Kirk, a Startup organizer and the director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in Howard County. “We know if we can harness the incredible things going around the state, bring them together and make sure that everyone is aware of them, then we can really blow the doors off.”
Startup Maryland is an offshoot of the Startup America Partnership launched last year by President Obama to spur growth in the country’s small, innovative companies. The Startup push dovetails with efforts in Maryland to foster growth of young, high-tech companies and stimulate commercialization of discoveries made in labs at government facilities and universities.
“There is no reason why our state should not be number on in entrepreneurship, number one in innovation, and therefore number one in job creation, job creation for this new knowledge-based economy,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The governor’s signature economic development program, InvestMaryland, raised $84 million on March 15 to invest in high-tech startups. O’Malley followed that plan with a proposal to create the Maryland Innovation Initiative, which, if approved by the General Assembly, would dedicate another $6 million to tech transfer efforts at the state’s public and private research universities.
O’Malley also launched on Friday a business pitch competition in partnership with UMCP, the Future of Information Alliance, the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Baltimore Angels. Submissions are due April 30.
Startup’s launch coincided with the University of Maryland’s 30 Days of En-terp-reneurship, which encompasses seven competitions and awards programs for business start-ups.
The first, Cupid Cup’s, was awarded Friday.
Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour and backer of Cupid’s Cup, urged the contestants to maintain enough naiveté to allow them to do big things.
“We were always smart enough to be naïve enough to not know what we couldn’t accomplish,” he said.