Archives For May 2012

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Gov. Martin O’Malley recognized four entrepreneurs on Thursday as part of the state’s first business pitch competition on Pinterest, the social networking site.

The businesses range from a middle school student who makes duct tape wallets to BeerGivr, a website that allows users to buy each other drinks remotely.

O’Malley lauded the entrepreneurial spirit behind each.

“The jobs that were here 20 years ago aren’t the jobs that are here today,” he said. “And the jobs that will be here 20 years from won’t be the jobs that are here today. There’s a constant need to hit the refresh button.”

BeerGivr took first place in its category, winning a MacBook Air donated by the Baltimore Angels, an angel investor network in the city, as well as promotion by the governor through his Pinterest page.

“If you want to say happy birthday, but you can’t make the party … you can send a drink,” explained Sean Kennedy, one of BeerGivr’s founders.

Users choose how much to spend on the beer, which is sent to the recipient via Twitter or text message. Participating bars then knock that much off the recipient’s tab.

Second place, and an iPad, went to Mission: Launch, a nonprofit run by Laurin Hodge that focuses on prisoner reentry programs. Plans call for a co-working space that would hold classes on different jobs skills and promote entrepreneurship.

Grady Booth, the student behind GB Wallets, won first place in the student entrepreneur category.

His wallets are in the back pockets of students and adults alike, and are sold by Fun for All! Toys in Annapolis.

Discreet Secrete Solutions, a wife-and-husband team that has developed a discrete, comfortable breast pump for working mothers, took second place in that category.

A panel of entrepreneurs and officials and academics charged with supporting the state’s business community offered contestants advice.

“It’s a lot cheaper to learn on someone else’s dime,” said Christian Johansson, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. “It’s a lot cheaper, if you’re a young entrepreneur, to join someone else’s startup and see how it’s done.”

Jason Hardebeck, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, urged the entrepreneurs to “always focus on the market and need” for their products.

And Elana Fine, associate director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, College Park, left them with a simple charge.

“Always be pitching,” she said.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

While climbing through attics and auditing homeowners’ insulation, plumbing, light bulbs and windows, the entrepreneurs behind Columbia’s greeNEWit saw an opportunity — the inefficiency in the energy efficiency business.

Contractors like themselves filled out reports with pen and paper in the field and later completed different reports for utilities and government overseers. The process wasted time and generated reams of paper, an output antithetical to the energy efficiency auditing itself.

So, greeNEWit’s three co-founders — all are in their mid- to late 20s and are graduates of Oakland Mills High School in Columbia — sought to solve the problem with software, developing an application that keeps contractors and monitors on the same page on efficiency projects, eliminating stacks of paper reports.

“In most cases, it makes more sense to fund efficiency than it does to build new power plants. The model, as far as implementing energy efficiency, works,” said Jason Jannati, one of the co-founders and greeNEWit’s chief communication officer. “Right now the way it’s being run is very inefficient.”

The company has modest roots and big plans.

Headquarters is on a shady cul-de-sac, in what was Jannati’s mother’s house, not far from where Jannati and co-founders Josh Notes and Matej Harangozo went to high school.

Operating at the intersection of the green energy and information technology fields, greeNEWit is growing. There are 28 people on the payroll now, and Jannati said that could double that in the next year.

“A lot of it has to do with contracts were talking about with the software,” he said. “We want our platform to be what the industry runs on.”

The company still performs energy audits, focusing on multifamily residential units and stepping into the commercial space, too.

But it is the software that began as an internal tool for greeNEWit’s auditors that appears to hold the most promise for the company’s future.

“We understood the issues we were having, all of our other competitors were having as well,” Jannati said. “We figured if we could solve the problem for us, we could solve it for the industry.”

The software platform was on the market, but greeNEWit pulled it back to retool and refocus the product. The company has a few clients using it during the beta phase, and a full version could roll out in a year or year-and-a-half.

Utilities, government agencies and other organizations mandating and implementing large-scale energy efficiency programs — the state’s EmPower Maryland goal is to cut energy consumption 15 percent by 2015 — will be the targets.

“When we do go live, it will be in a more comprehensive way, as opposed to offering it to contractors on the ground,” Jannati said. “We’re going to offer it in a more top-down approach.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The number of Marylanders working fell in April for the first time in nine months, but there was still some good news to be found in the labor market figures released last week. Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development researchers have pulled together a handful of those bright spots.

Despite the losses in April, Maryland has made strong gains over the last year, with a wide range of businesses boosting payrolls. And the Old Line State continues to bounce back from the recession faster than most other states.

Unless otherwise noted, the figures referenced below are seasonally adjusted.

-Maryland’s unemployment rate, 6.7 percent, ranked 16th nationwide in April.

-Despite the loss of 6,000 jobs last month, the state has still posted a net gain of 12,100 jobs in 2012.

-April was a good month for one of Maryland’s strongest sectors as well as a sector that has struggled in recent years. Health care and social assistance added 1,300 jobs and manufacturing, 1,200 jobs.

-Maryland has added 15,700 private sector jobs in 2012, better than most other states.

-In the past 12 months (April 2011 to April 2012), Maryland has added 40,600 jobs. That 1.6 percent rate of growth is good for 11th in the country.

-Over that time period, private employers in the state have added 38,000 jobs, a 1.9 percent growth rate, 12th-highest in the country.

-The largest year-over-year growth has come in professional and business services, up 13,800 jobs, or 3.5 percent. Health care and social assistance is up 11,900 (3.6 percent). Construction has added 5,700 jobs (3.9 percent). Private education employment has grown by 4,600 jobs (6.1 percent) and leisure and hospitality, 3,400 jobs (1.5 percent).

-Maryland’s job market hit the bottom of the recessionary trough in February 2010. Since then, Maryland has added 107,600 jobs.

-The state’s 74.4 percent recovery rate is 8th-best in the country. The national recovery rate is 42.7 percent.

-Of those jobs recovered, 95,300 are private-sector jobs. That 61.8 percent recovery rate ranks 10th nationwide.

-Seven Maryland sub-sectors were among the top 20 nationwide over the last 12 months, according to non-seasonally adjusted data. The top three:

  • Architectural, engineering and related services added 3,000 jobs. The 7.4 percent rate of growth was tops in the country.
  • The state also added 600 scientific research and development jobs, a 1.9 percent rate of growth that ranked 5th.
  • Legal services expanded by 200 jobs, a 1.1 percent growth that ranked 8th.


By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

At the helm of a small Maryland startup, Arti Patel Varanasi hopes to boost the chances of surviving breast cancer not with new medicine or treatment, but with information, communication and laptop computers.

Varanasi’s company, Advancing Synergy, is testing its technology platform in collaboration with the Prevention and Research Center at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center.

The online platform, called Technology Enhanced Nurse Navigation, or TENN, steers breast cancer patients through their treatment, a digital supplement to their face-to-face interactions with doctors, nurses and others.

“Oftentimes people have a diagnosis, they’re scared, they don’t really know what’s going on,” said Varanasi. “Sometimes they have limited interactions with their care providers. They’re curious about knowing how other people manage the disease and want to understand more about their treatment itself.”

TENN offers users a wide range of information on their disease and treatment, from nutrition, exercise and relaxation tips to the experiences of other patients and common symptoms.

The system also allows patients to contact treatment navigators via email or live chats. Varanasi said that type of interaction can yield answers to many questions, but also empowers patients to ask more informed questions of their treatment team.

“It’s not providing medical care,” she said.” It’s providing support.”

TENN also compiles information on the patient’s diagnosis and treatment, and stores the patient’s treatment schedule in hopes of keeping the patient on track.

“Getting the right treatment at the right time is very critical for their survival,” said Varanasi.

Advancing Synergy and Mercy are conducting a trial run for the technology that will eventually put it in the hands of 100 low-income breast cancer patients. They’ll access the TENN system with netbook computers provided by the study team.

Varanasi said the response in the first few months has been positive.

Her company is part of a growing group of Maryland businesses operating at the intersection of healthcare and information technology, using the web and software platforms to deliver better patient care and cut down on expensive emergency care while doing it.

One of the leaders in the field, Get Real, is working with hospital systems, local and state-level governments and federal agencies to set up health care information exchanges to enhance interaction between providers and patients.

Varanasi said Advancing Synergy’s products could be delivered directly to consumers, or licensed to hospitals and health care systems to supplement their traditional care regimens in cancer and other diseases.

“Navigation is also used in the management of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc., as well as cancer,” she said. “So what we’ve developed is actually an application framework that can be used for chronic disease management overall.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law on Tuesday a program to support the commercialization of discoveries made in university labs in Maryland and two other bills that will strengthen a pair of the state’s business tax credits.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly during its regular session that concluded in April.

Tech transfer and capitalizing on the research conducted in Maryland have long been a focus for the state and the Department of Business and Economic Development.

“To create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments: investments by all of us, for all of us,” O’Malley said. ”Today, we’re signing legislation that will create jobs, invest in innovation and protect our shared priorities.”

The Innovate Maryland program will pool $5 million from the state and funding from Johns Hopkins University; Morgan State University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County and University of Maryland, College Park to help spin businesses out of university labs.

The schools will each contribute up to $200,000 to the effort to help researchers take their ideas to market. The funding can be used to evaluate and develop start-ups and to assess intellectual property issues.

The program’s goal is to commercialize 40 discoveries every year through the partnership between the state and its research universities.

“This landmark legislation moves technologies developed in our world-class research institutions from innovation to commercialization to company formation to job creation,” said DBED Secretary Christian S. Johansson. “Innovate Maryland helps fuel the jobs and companies of tomorrow and create an economic climate where the most promising ideas and innovations have a chance to mature.”

(O’Malley visited the Emerging Technology Center in East Baltimore last month to promote Innovate Maryland.)

Innovate Maryland builds on last year’s InvestMaryland legislation, and both programs reinforce the funding pipeline that brings ideas from lab tables to consumers.

InvestMaryland stocked the state’s Maryland Venture Fund with the proceeds of a tax credit auction for insurance companies.

The auction in March raised $84 million, well above the floor of $70 million. Two-thirds of the money will be invested in young, high-tech companies by private venture firms, with 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the profit returned to the state after successful investments.

The Maryland Venture Fund will dole out about one-third of the money.

O’Malley also signed an extension of the Job Creation Tax Credit on Tuesday. That credit encourages businesses to move to and expand in Maryland by rewarding them with tax credits for creating new jobs.

The extension moves the expiration date from 2014 to 2020. The credits range from $1,000 to $1,500 per job, depending on the company’s location.

The governor also inked legislation that expands the eligibility requirements for jurisdictions under the One Maryland Economic Development Tax Credit program.

Businesses that invest in projects in qualified distressed counties may qualify tax credits worth up to $5.5 million.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Maryland’s unemployment rate inched up again last month as employers in the state shed some 6,000 jobs, according to figures released Friday morning by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The April jobs report ended what turned out to be a six-month run of employment growth. Labor officials also revised downward March figures to reflect a loss of 600 jobs rather than a gain of 1,500.

Despite an anemic spring, Maryland has performed well over the last year. Since April 2011, the state has added 40,600 jobs, with 38,000 of those coming in the private sector.

The hardest-hit sector in April was leisure and hospitality, which lost 3,900 jobs. Some 2,800 of those came in accommodation and food services. Such March to April decreases are not uncommon, according to labor officials.

The professional and business services sector shed 2,200 jobs in April. The administrative and support services sub-sector, which includes employment agencies, janitorial services and landscaping services lost 2,100 of those jobs after seeing an increase in the month prior. The end of tax season as well as low rainfall in April could have led to less need for accountants and landscapers.

Other sectors experienced smaller declines and a few saw increases in employment in April.

Manufacturing added 1,200 jobs and health care and social assistance — one of Maryland’s strongest sectors — boosted payrolls by 1,300.

The unemployment rate climbed to 6.7 percent, up from 6.6 percent in March. It was, however, lower than it was a year ago. The unemployment rate has dropped 0.4 points over the last 12 months, down from the 7.1 percent in April 2011.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Maryland approved state funding for 40 researchers studying human stem cells and their applications in treating a wide range of diseases and other medical conditions.

The awards, approved Thursday by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, will be paid from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund’s $12.4 million budget for fiscal 2012.

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission recommended the 40 winners after whittling down the list of 179 applicants seeking funding through the program.

“These projects address a diverse array of debilitating and costly diseases and conditions, some of which are traditionally underfunded,” said Margaret Conn Himelfarb, chairwoman of the commission. “Maryland’s investment in cutting-edge stem cell research continues to advance the field and strengthens our state’s national leadership position in the life sciences.”

This year, the commission focused on regenerative medicine proposals, selecting research that targets sickle cell anemia, schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, nerve injury, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease, among others.

The commission will also fund a Maryland researcher working with counterparts funded by California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. They are studying stem cell differentiation and bone repair.

See the full list of recipients here.

All but two are academics and most come from Johns Hopkins University. Researchers from University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park also received funding.

Nine received investigator-initiated research grants worth up to $600,000 over three years to further work that has turned up preliminary data that support their hypotheses.

Seventeen were awarded exploratory research grants worth up to $200,000 over two years to explore novel approaches, mechanisms and models.

Another 14 received post-doctoral fellowship grants good for up to $55,000 a year for two years.

The final amounts of each award have not yet been determined.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Eleven horses have won the Triple Crown. Only one man has trained two winners, and only two owners can lay claim to more than one.

Victory Racing Plate Co., however, boasts connections of aluminum and steel to all but a handful of the winners.

Eight of those horses have taken the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes shod with Victory horseshoes — or, if you’re in the industry, “racing plates” — forged by the company headquartered on a bumpy Rosedale side street so small it doesn’t warrant a stoplight on Route 40.

Aluminum is headed to an oven that will heat it before it is forged into Victory horseshoes.

“Wherever thoroughbreds race in the world, you’ll find Victory plates,” says Victory President David Erb, who has been with the company for 30 of its more than 80 years.

“For the last 10 years, the global market has really been oversaturated,” he said. “We’re proud to say that we still maintain the lion’s share of the global racing plate market.”

When the horses thunder across the finish line at Pimlico on Saturday, gunning for the 137th Preakness Stakes, many of them will be wearing Victory shoes.

Erb said he doesn’t keep track of which horses wear the durable, lightweight — one weighs about as much as a smartphone — shoes his company makes.

“The cost of tracking that outweighs any benefit,” he said.

Victory’s shoes go to distributors then to farriers, some of whom take them overseas before they ever come close to a hoof.

Erb does, however, offer a few names. They include Smarty Jones, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 2001 before finishing second at the Belmont. Another, Funny Cide, won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2003 and was a heavy favorite to win the third. But another Victory-shod horse, Empire Maker, took the Belmont.

Early in Victory’s history, big-name clientele included Omaha — the 1935 Triple Crown Winner trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, the only trainer to take the crown twice — and Seabiscuit, a Fitzsimmons horse that in 1938 beat War Admiral, another Triple Crown winner.

In 1973, Secretariat wore Victory plates on the way to the Triple Crown.

Victory has more than 1,000 dies it uses to forge millions of horseshoes, or "racing plates" every year.

Victory’s roots, however, can be found on the hooves of Signola, a horse all but lost to history.

One day in 1926, Leonard Liepman, a Baltimore lawyer, put a set of English-style aluminum racing plates on Signola and noticed a significant improvement in the horse’s time over previous races during which it wore traditional steel plates. But, the softer aluminum plates lasted only the one race.

Liepman took his idea, an aluminum and steel horseshoe, to Bethlehem Steel and ALCOA. Engineers at both said the plan wouldn’t work. The metals, they said, could not be forged together.

After years of development, Liepman began production in 1929 in the garage of an apartment building in downtown Baltimore. Victory later moved to a larger facility but was forced to move again in 1971 to make way for Route 83.

Now in Rosedale, Victory’s plates are made from a sturdy, lightweight aluminum alloy and reinforced with strips of steel in the toes.

“Anytime you hear a jet engine and you look up and see an aircraft flying overhead, it’s essentially the same aluminum that’s used in the airframe of that aircraft,” Erb said.

According to the company, through the 1960s, 98 percent of all winners of thoroughbred stakes races in the United States wore Victory racing plates.

Finished racing plates

Today, much of the production process is automated but the staff of 35 never strays too far from the line. The company makes plates for thoroughbred racers, standardbred horses used in harness racing, show jumpers and other competitive equines. Victory makes millions of plates a year, according to Erb.

Victory employees meet with farriers and others in the industry to tweak the 63-page catalog, and add new pages to it.

Erb said the company is working with a European inventor on technology to insert computer chips into its plates to measure force, stress and other factors. Victory is also collaborating with a trainer on a horseshoe that will allow the natural shock absorber in a hoof to expand as it hits the ground.

“When you’re in the leadership position in an industry, everybody’s taking their shots at you,” Erb said. “That’s why in the rental car industry, Avis used to say ‘We try harder,’ because they always wanted to be like Hertz. Well, everyone wants to be like Victory, so the pressure is on us to maintain that leadership role and maintain that market share. We work hard to do that.”

By Kathy Snyder, CCE, President/CEO, Maryland Chamber of Commerce

A favorite activity of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is highlighting the successes of entrepreneurs and business leaders who not only are successful in their firms but are inspirational community leaders. Just last week, the Maryland Chamber inducted three such Marylanders into its Business Hall of Fame.

Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Betty Buck took over Buck Distributing Co., Inc. in Upper Marlboro when her father Irwin Buck passed away. Under her direction, the company has expanded beyond Prince George’s County into Anne Arundel, Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties and is now one of the largest Miller beer distributorships in the country. Betty’s company also distributes a wide variety of imported and micro brews on the Eastern Shore. Buck Distributing employs more than 100 people and has annual sales of more than $49 million.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Betty’s tenacity and leadership have won her numerous honors and awards, including serving as the first woman chair the boards of the Maryland Chamber and the National Beer Wholesalers Association. In April 2007, she received the “Miller Legend” award for her industry.

Another native Marylander, Bill Roberts, hails from Talbot County and recently retired as Verizon’s regional president for Maryland and Washington, D.C. Bill began his career with C&P Telephone in Washington as a business office manager and rose through the ranks in operations, human resources, marketing, public affairs and government affairs. He was named president of Verizon Maryland in 2000, and promoted to regional president in 2007.

Bill’s commitment to community is exceptional. In addition to serving as the first African American chairman of the Maryland Chamber board, Bill serves on the boards of many organizations such as Kennedy-Krieger Institute, MedStar Health and Morgan State University. He has actively worked with a homeless men’s group in Washington for more than a decade and continues to reach out and help those in need.

One of the most prominent business leaders in Montgomery County is Larry Shulman, founding partner of Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A. Larry never planned to be an attorney, hoping instead to succeed as a business man. But, upon graduating from Georgetown law school, he delved into his career in law and has enjoyed great success over the years. He vision and leadership are renowned in his home county, particularly with the Construction Trades initiative of the Montgomery County Schools, Leadership Montgomery and Leadership Maryland. A former member and president of the Maryland State Board of Education, Larry played a key mediation role in the final resolution of the long-lasting desegregation case involving the Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Videos produced by Comcast for the Maryland Chamber. For more information, contact Kathy Snyder, President/CEO, Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The online social networking sphere is a crowded one. Silicon Valley titans make billion-dollar acquisitions to spar with one another and tighten their holds on users’ attention spans.

But Devin Partlow, has something up his sleeve — a social networking app that forces, or encourages, its users to interact the old fashioned way.

Online communication, “that’s nothing if we don’t come face to face, and kind of break the ice between us and develop a relationship,” said Partlow.

Kithly, the second iteration of a company founded by Partlow a little more than a year ago, is meant for people very much like Partlow himself — entrepreneurs and working professionals who need a nudge to maintain the relationships that are so critical to their success.

“It was always about building relationships. Me, personally, I’m kind of a bad friend,” Partlow explains, with a smile and a laugh. “I work and then I have these things I do after hours and man, it’s like ‘I can’t really hang out.’”

Kithly integrates information from a user’s calendar and contacts to find who’s around and available for a cup of coffee or a sit-down lunch.

Partlow describes it as an extension of exchanging business cards at a conference or trade show.

Connect on Kithly and let the app on an iPhone or Android phone find a time that works and a location that’s most convenient for both parties to reconnect.

Kithly is also intended to maintain long-standing connections.

Say you’re in Virginia for a meeting that wraps up early.

“You know there’s no way you’re getting back up to Maryland because of 495 at 3 o’clock,” Partlow says. “Why not see which of my connections are in the area? Let’s catch up.”

The app will also give priority to those connections that have languished the longest to help a user maintain all the strands of his or her social web.

The company, which takes its name from “kith,” meaning friends and acquaintances, was accepted into the Emerging Technology Center’s accelerator program earlier this year, and moved into the Canton incubator in April.

In the last few months, the company has changed its name — it used to be “Hooopla” — and picked up three partners, including two whom Partlow met through another Maryland startup, the CoFoundersLab.

Kithly has a beta release scheduled for June and plans to roll out the app to the public around July 11, when Partlow is slated to demo the product at the accelerator.

A native of northeast Baltimore and Morgan State University graduate, Partlow began developing the app in late 2010. He made it his full-time job in April 2011 and said he saw interest pick up at the start of this year.

Appropriately enough, he said he measures Kithly’s success through his network of friends and acquaintances as the app moves toward a wider release.

“It’s more how many people get excited when they hear the idea,” he said. “You can tell someone gets excited because you can see it in their eyes. How many of them, their eyes are lightin’ up? How many say ‘This is a cool idea?’ How many say ‘I’ll help you along.’ Because they can see the potential. That’s my measure of success right now.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

GlycoMimetics Inc. has launched a partnership to develop a new AIDS vaccine, the Gaithersburg life sciences company announced Wednesday.

GlycoMimetics will work with the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Glycosensors and Diagnostics LLC on the vaccine that will use compounds that mimic carbohydrates, called glycomimetics.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with [IAVI] and [G&D head Robert Woods] on this pivotal project,” said John Magnani, vice president and chief scientific officer of GlycoMimetics. “This provides an excellent opportunity to apply our specialized chemistry expertise to help address current unmet needs in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.”

IAVI will fund the project through its Innovation Fund, a program that bankrolls unconventional approaches to designing and developing AIDS vaccines.

GlycoMimetics brings to the table specialized design capabilities the company has honed developing small molecule drugs and G&D has a novel biomolecular simulation technology. Oxford University researcher Chris Scanlan will also be involved in the effort.

The partners hope to develop carbohydrate immunogens that stimulate the creation antibodies capable of fighting HIV.

“This effort combines the advanced technology and expertise from four diverse partners to address a major challenge in HIV vaccine design — the design of HIV vaccines that target the carbohydrate layer that shields the virus from the immune system,” said Hansi Dean, director of new alliances at IAVI.

Founded in 2003, GlycoMimetics is focused on developing treatments for inflammation, cancer and other infectious diseases. The company entered a partnership with Pfizer Inc. in October on its lead product, GMI-1070, a sickle cell therapy.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Space suits, moon missions, augmented reality glasses and tennis rackets — Juxtopia has a new take on them all.

The 10-year-old company spun out of Morgan State University has evolved from its biomedical information technology roots and is a new resident of the Emerging Technology Center in the renovated former Eastern High School building. There, Juxtopia professionals, Johns Hopkins University students and city high school students are engineering software and hardware that cuts to the company’s core goal — improving human performance.

“Juxtopia has four companies, including itself, collaborating in one space, each doing its own type of innovative technology product development that has commercial potential,” said Jayfus Doswell, Juxtopia’s founder, president and CEO.

The product furthest along the Juxtopia pipeline is the company’s line of augmented reality glasses.

Google recently turned the spotlight on the technology by unveiling a conceptual demonstration of its own augmented reality glasses that would send text messages, take pictures, map routes to destinations and perform other smartphone-like tasks.

Juxtopia’s product is a blue-collar, hard-working cousin, intended for use in war zones, operating rooms, classrooms and factories. Funded by a Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Science Foundation, the company has been conducting research on context-aware augmented reality hardware and software since 2005.

Juxtopia plans to manufacture the goggles in Baltimore.

Doswell said there are applications in the medical field, manufacturing, education and sports, among others.

“So imagine there’s a combat medic on the battlefield, 19 years old,” Doswell says.

“He needs to provide a life-saving procedure, very fast, within 60 seconds. That medic puts on the goggles and voice retrieves the task,” he says. “Sometimes that 19-year-old medic on the battlefield, getting shot at, may not be able to [recall] the task fast enough. The goggles provide that assistance.”

The goggles would give the medic step-by-step instructions and allow him or her to document the procedure as it unfolds.

Another Juxtopia company is working on technology to embed sensors in tennis racquets that would feed data back to coaches and players.

And then there are the Juxtopia team members who hope their work here on the ground pays dividends in space.

The Solar Systems Express subsidiary is developing a new spacesuit for the commercial space industry. A sister company is working on an autonomous service vehicle that would zip from satellite to satellite to refuel and repair them, a sort of outer space AAA.

Juxtopia also has a team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize — $30 million for the first privately funded group to land a robot safely on the Moon.

Juxtopia’s team is working on a system of worm-like robots they say will be able to traverse the Moon’s surface more easily than traditional vehicles, as well as an airbag landing system.

With the airbags, spacecraft will be able to bounce on to the lunar surface at 60 miles per hour, rather than the softer 1 or 2 mph required by legacy system. The Juxtopia method is cheaper, lighter and simpler, said Blaze Sanders, a mechanical engineering graduate student at Hopkins.

“Scientists around the world will be able to more cheaply explore the entire solar system with a system that doesn’t have to worry about accurately landing,” Sanders said.