Archives For October 2012

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Startup Maryland has posted online the 168 business pitches the group collected during its nearly three-week tour across the state in September.

The Pitch Across Maryland bus outside the State House in Annapolis.

The entrepreneurial support and advocacy organization is looking for the “fan favorite” of businesses that took part in the Pitch Across Maryland Tour. The popularity contest — the videos are posted on Youtube, so views count as votes — will expire at the end of the year, with the winner receiving what organizers call a “token prize.”

“These videos are a testament to the strength, dedication and diversity of Maryland’s entrepreneurial community,” said Mike Binko, co-chair of Startup Maryland. “When we launched the Pitch Across Maryland tour we thought we might have 40-50 entrepreneurs join us on the tour bus and pitch, so 168 is phenomenal. Including all the rallies and events we held more than 200 startups actually participate in the tour.”

Co-chair Julie Lenzer Kirk said the tour “rightly placed the spotlight on the vitality in Maryland’s innovation economy.”

As the public voting gets underway, so too will the official judging. Investors, experienced entrepreneurs, incubator heads, economic development officials and others on the judging panel will pare the video pitches down to the eight they believe represent the “strongest potential for high growth.” Those that make the final eight will receive support from Startup Maryland and its partners.

The finalists will be announced Nov. 7. The winner and runner-up will be crowned at the Entrepreneur Expo on Nov. 13.

The pitch videos are located here, sorted by the tour stops at which they were collected.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson took the hot seat during the bus tour to talk about the state’s innovation economy and the new InvestMaryland program that raised $84 million in venture capital dollars that will be invested in Maryland companies. (O’Malley and Johansson aren’t part of the fan favorite contest, so posting their videos below won’t skew voting.)

Here’s the governor on the state’s innovation economy:

And here’s Johansson on InvestMaryland:

Inner Harbor Baltimore on October 30, 2012

Inner Harbor, Baltimore on October 30, 2012.

Now that the historic storm Sandy has moved through Maryland, all thoughts are on clean-up, recovery and rebuilding. Although Maryland fared somewhat better than our neighbors to the north, there is still a great deal to do.



Due to Hurricane Sandy,  The Maryland + INC 500 Breakfast scheduled for Wednesday Oct 31st has been postponed until further notice.

More information as it is available. Please share this notification with all interested parties.

While Silicon Valley, Austin and other traditional high-tech hotbeds are considered the places to be for high-growth companies, new Kauffman Foundation research shows that innovation comes from a wide range of sectors and regions.

The Ascent of America’s High-Growth Companies: An Analysis of the Geography of Entrepreneurship examined the number of Inc. 500 firms by state over three decades and found a concentration of high-growth companies and innovation around the Washington D.C. area.

California and Texas naturally have more Inc. 500 companies because they have large populations, but a host of other states outperform those giants when population is taken into account. Washington D.C. led the way with an Inc. score (Inc. 500 companies per million people) of 54.6 in the 2000s. The capital was followed by Utah, Virginia, Massachusetts and Maryland. (California placed 12th, with a score of 19.2 and Texas landed at No. 15, posting a 15.2.)

Maryland’s score was 29.2. The Old Line State increased its stock of Inc. 500 companies from 143 in the 1980s to 169 in the 2000s. The latest Inc. list included 20 Maryland companies.

A version of this story appeared in the Economic Pulse newsletter distributed this week. Subscribe here.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

From a renovated industrial building wedged between the highway and rail line that separate Woodberry and Hampden, Kevin Blodger and Jon Zerivitz are brewing their way into Baltimore’s local beer scene.

A professional brewmaster and a home-brewer, the pair founded Union Craft Brewing a year ago. They started brewing their first batch on June 6 and Union beers are already on taps in every county in Maryland. Just this month, the brewery’s Balt Altbier won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, the country’s largest gathering of brewers and beer aficionados.

“We want people in the city to be proud of the beer here,” Blodger said. “There’s a huge connection to Natty Boh here … We hope people will get behind us and support Union because we want to support Baltimore.”

Kevin Blodger, brewmaster of Union Craft Brewing in Woodberry, explains how the new brewery’s beer is made.

Said Zerivitz: “One of the best things about doing this is — when we’re in the tasting room on Saturday or when we’re out doing tastings around town — sort of blowing peoples’ minds or changing their expectations when they come up and say ‘I don’t like beer’ or ‘I don’t like hoppy beer’ or ‘I don’t like dark beer’ and we can find one of our beers that they enjoy.”

Union is on track to produce about 1,200 barrels of beer, or some 37,200 gallons, in its first year. Union beer is sold only on draft for now, but Zerivitz and Blodger plan to add a canning line and other equipment that will allow them to boost output next year. Until then, they’re counting on beer drinkers finding Union products at bars and restaurants and through tastings and events, like the Baltimore Bike Party gathering the brewery is hosting on Friday.

Zerivitz was a graphic designer who worked in advertising and marketing before his home-brewing hobby took a turn and eventually inspired him to go pro. He said he saw the potential for a Baltimore neighborhood brewery at a rare beer event during a past Baltimore Beer Week. (Baltimore Beer Week 2012 is this week.)

“At the time I just didn’t realize how much interest there was in craft beer,” Zerivitz said. “I was sitting at the event thinking ‘There’s so much interest here. There’s so much energy. And there’s such a small number of breweries.’ It seemed like there’s a lot of thirsty people here, but not a lot of breweries.”

A college friend of Blodger, who has been brewing professionally for a decade, introduced the two soon-to-be business partners and Union was founded in November 2011, joining a growing pool of brewpubs and craft breweries sprouting across the state. They looked at locations in the city and the suburbs, but ultimately settled on the spot on Union Ave. just a short walk from the revitalization in Woodberry and the eclectic scene in Hampden.

The goal is to be “a true Baltimore neighborhood brewery,” Zerivitz said. “That’s certainly our mission, to brew great beer in Baltimore in a Baltimore neighborhood and really become part of the fabric of Baltimore.”

The German-style Balt Altbier, or Balt Alt for short, is a nod to the city’s brewing history. It and the Duckpin Pale Ale are the flagships of Union’s offerings. The brewery has seven beers out now and there are plans for more — an oatmeal stout for the winter and maybe a Christmas beer.

“Baltimore has been really welcoming to us and people have embraced the brand,” said Blodger. “I think we make beers that are very approachable — both to a beer geek and to a person who drinks Miller Lite every day.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Following Maryland’s strong September jobs report last week, the researchers here at the Department of Business and Economic Development distilled the numbers down to these 10 quick takeaways:

-Maryland added 9,800 jobs last month. The 0.4 percent growth rate was 5th best in the country

-The private sector accounted for 9,600 of those jobs. That 0.5 percent growth rate was 4th best in the country.

-Big gains came from professional and business services (4,100 jobs), retail trade (1,900), construction (1,300), health care (900) and private education (700).

-Maryland has gained 13,300 jobs in 2012, including 12,300 private sector jobs.

-In the last 12 months (from September 2011 to September 2012), Maryland has added 25,500 jobs, including 24,100 private sector jobs.

-In the past year, Maryland has added 2,900 architecture and engineering jobs. The 7 percent growth rate is No. 2 in the country.

-Professional, scientific and technical services firms have added 10,100 jobs in the last year. That 4.4 percent growth is 12th fastest nationwide.

-Research and development services have added 500 jobs, good for 1.6 percent growth and the No. 4 spot in the country.

-Maryland has added 108,800 jobs since employment bottomed out in February 2010. That’s good for a 75.2 percent recovery rate, 7th best in the nation. (The country as a whole has recovered 48.5 percent of the jobs lost.)

-The private sector has added 91,900 jobs since the bottom of the recession, a 59.6 percent recovery rate.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The Maryland Innovation Initiative, passed in the spring by the General Assembly, launched two programs Monday to support and speed the commercialization of technologies developed at five universities in the state.

The Innovation Discovery Program funds “site miners” at the institutions — University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University. The tech transfer experts will identify promising discoveries with commercial potential and forge partnerships across departments, schools and universities to maximize that potential.

The Innovation Commercialization Program supports the commercialization of research at the pre-commercial, commercial planning and early stage product development stages. Projects are eligible for $215,000 at a single university and $270,000 if they bring in more than one university.

Applications are available here.

The Innovation Initiative, one of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s top economic proposals in the most recent regular session of the legislature, builds on the state’s effort to capitalize on the wealth of research and development activity in Maryland. The InvestMaryland program, passed in 2010, raised $84 million that will be invested as venture capital in promising, high-tech Maryland startups.

Southwest Airlines, the dominant carrier at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, is adding up to four new daily flights to its schedule at BWI starting in April.

AirTran Airways, which is owned by Southwest, will fly one daily flight to Punta Cana, Domincan Republic. And Southwest will fly three daily flights to Flint, Mich.

Southwest is also taking over some AirTran flights, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

The Sun has a list of Maryland companies that received venture funding in the third quarter.

The big winner was Tenable Network Security Inc., of Columbia, which landed $50 million from Accel Partners. Zenoss Inc., the software company in Annapolis, received nearly $25 million total from several investors.

Now to the really important news (for soccer fans) — Baltimore has submitted a bid to host Gold Cup matches in 2013, according to the BBJ. The games would be played at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Gold Cup, held every odd-numbered year, is an international tournament of 12 teams to crown the champion of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. (That’s CONCACAF for short.)

Next year’s cup will offer teams headed to the World Cup (Brazil, 2014) the chance to tune up their games and, perhaps more importantly, give the U.S. a chance to erase the still-bitter memory of the 4-2 loss to Mexico in last year’s final. (The U.S. took an early 2-0 lead and gave up four unanswered to El Tri. Wasn’t pretty.)

So, cross your fingers, practice your “Tim-my How-ard” chants and appreciate the maturation of Michael Bradley in the midfield.

The Daily Record has an AP story about a draft executive order that would require intelligence agencies to share information about cybersecurity threats with companies that operate critical  infrastructure, such as railroads and power plants.

Two college savings plans run by T. Rowe Price were ranked among the best in the country, according to a story in The Sun.

T. Rowe has been on the Morningstar list all but one year since 2004, when the list was first compiled.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The weeklong kickoff of Maryland’s bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812 drew an estimated 1.54 million visitors and had an economic impact of $166.1 million in June, according to a study released Thursday.

The study, conducted by Forward Analytics of Pittsburgh, found the Star-Spangled Sailabration returned $35 for every $1 invested. The event, held June 13-19, had a budget of $4.8 million.

A parade of 45 tall ships from around the world formed the centerpiece of the event, with more than 4,000 sailors from a dozen countries offering free ship tours. The Blue Angels flew overhead, performing an airshow, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra debuted the Overture for 1812.

Maryland played a key role in the conflict with England 200 years ago. The defense of Baltimore forced the British from the Chesapeake region and Francis Scott Key penned the poem that would become the national anthem in the aftermath of the battle.

“The War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner are important moments in Maryland’s revolutionary history and part of the thread that blends the fabric of our nation together,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “Sailabration brought in millions of dollars in revenue to help strengthen our State’s economy, and that was just the beginning of a multi-year commemoration in Maryland. We look forward to bringing in even more revenue for our State and sharing the many great stories from our nation’s legacy.”

Forward Analytics broke down the spending into $97.7 million in direct impact and $68.4 million in indirect impact. More than 1.1 million Marylanders visited the event and another 435,000 visitors came from 23 other states, according to the study. More than 56 percent said they wouldn’t have visited if not for Sailabration.

The study estimated visitors spent $44.1 million at local restaurants and $6.8 million at hotels. The state received approximately $5.7 million in tax revenue, according to the study, and Baltimore got about $1.5 million.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Maryland added 9,800 jobs in September and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The private sector accounted for the lion’s share of the jobs added in September — 9,600, or an increase of 0.5 percent, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

“Last month, Marylanders created 9,800 new jobs – the single greatest month of job creation in 29 months and the result of a thriving private sector that created 98 percent of all new jobs in September,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley in a written statement. “Together, we’ve driven our unemployment rate down to 6.9 percent, which remains 12 percent below the national average. This past year, we’ve created 25,500 new jobs and to date, Maryland has recovered over three-quarters of the jobs we’ve lost during the Bush recession.

The professional and business services sector added 4,100 jobs last month and logistics — trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities — added another 2,000. The education, health care and social assistance sector added 1,600 jobs and construction, 1,300.

September’s increase of 9,800 jobs was the largest gain for the ninth month of the year since 2003, according to DLLR.

Maryland’s labor department also revisited preliminary jobs figures for August. The increase of 1,400 jobs that month was revised upward to a gain of 2,600. The unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in August.

“Maryland continues to make progress toward recovery. We’ve created 25,500 jobs in the last year and 2,200 fewer Marylanders have filed new unemployment insurance claims,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie.

The state’s private sector has been responsible for almost all of that growth. Government employment grew by only 1,400 during that time.

In the last year, employment in professional and business services has increased 4.7 percent (18,600 jobs), education and health care employment has risen 1.4 percent (5,900 jobs) and leisure and hospitality grew 0.7 percent (1,700 jobs). Other sectors posted smaller losses or shed jobs.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Gov. Martin O’Malley pitched Maryland’s economic strengths to businesses this week, highlighting the state’s top-ranked public education system, affordable colleges and universities and vibrant culture of entrepreneurship, research and discovery. Compared to Virginia, Maryland has seen faster job growth in recent years, bounced back more quickly following the recession, developed a higher concentration of green jobs and maintained a lower tax burden as a share of residents’ income, O’Malley said. Maryland is ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship and innovation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; has had the best public schools four years in a row, according to Education Week; and has the highest median income in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

(View the graphs, charts and stats referenced in the video here.)

Housing starts rose 15 percent in September, and building permits were up across the country, too, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures reported by the Associated Press.

Single-family home construction was up 11 percent to the fastest rate in four years and apartment construction was up 25.1 percent.

The Sun has a quick look at Baltimore’s housing market — Charm City is the 9th most affordable among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas.

And the Baltimore Business Journal has a blurb from Bank of America Corp. CEO Brian Moynihan on the housing market. ““The worst is over,” he told Bloomberg TV. “You’re starting to see the home market heal around the country.”

The company formerly known as 2tor has a new name. The Landover online education platform developer is now known as “2U,” the company announced Tuesday.

Here’s CEO and co-founder Chip Paucek on the change: “While our name is changing, our mission remains the same. As a company, we stand beside our university partners. We support them and their faculties as they grow their programs online so they can reach more students than ever before. But we don’t teach or tutor their students. Our partner institutions hold sole responsibility for creating the world-class curricula and delivering the inspired instruction that make our partnerships successful. We’re proud to collaborate with and support our great university partners, and our new name reflects that relationship.”

2U has been landing deals with major universities and adding jobs at its Prince George’s County headquarters recently.  The company announced collaborations with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington University School of Law in St. Louis this year.

The new partnership between the University of Maryland’s flagship and Baltimore campuses has landed a $2 million grant to continue work on a very small robot to be used in neurosurgery, according to The Daily Record.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow researchers to develop and test a version of the robot compatible with MRI scans.

Less importantly medically but far more important aesthetically at the University of Maryland, College Park, the men’s basketball team unveiled new uniforms for their season opener against Kentucky in Brooklyn next month. The Post has some shots here of the Under Armour gear.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County will use a $1 million grant from Northrop Grumman to award scholarships, internships and advanced research opportunities to students studying cybersecurity, according to the BBJ.

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowksi made the announcement Wednesday at the opening of the second day of the CyberMaryland conference in Baltimore.

Addressing the conference Tuesday, President Obama’s cybersecurity czar Michael Daniel warned of hackers increasingly attacking banks, utilities and other critical infrastructure. The same day, the head of  Kapersky Lab announced the Russian antivirus company is working on software to safeguard the computers in nuclear power plants and other infrastructure.

The Greene Turtle, based in Edgewater, will open 10 restaurants on Long Island, the BBJ reports.

The plan is for 150 Greene Turtles up and down the East Coast in the next four or five years.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

President Obama’s cybersecurity czar touted on Tuesday the strength, flexibility and innovative potential of the “partnership between government and industry to enhance and secure America’s cyberspace.”

“Cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection are challenges that we face together,” White House cybersecurity adviser Michael Daniel said at the opening of the CyberMaryland 2012 conference in Baltimore. “Over $8 trillion a year is exchanged over wired and wireless networks, and it’s growing. So that means if you shut down the internet, you effectively shut down the economy.”

Cybersecurity has gained international attention as hackers have successfully breached and disrupted corporate and government operations around the world. In August, a virus called Shamoon infected Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian state oil company and the largest oil producer in the world. The virus took down the company’s network for 10 days and damaged 30,000 computers.

In the wake of the attack, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the “collective result of these kind of attacks could be a cyber Pearl Harbor.”

On Tuesday, Daniel said hackers are increasingly targeting critical infrastructure, such as banks and public utilities, in addition to intelligence and defense networks.

“The threats will persist and will continue to become more advanced,” he said.

Said Lt. Gen Kenneth A Minihan, former director of the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency: “The threat changes at a velocity unknown to man.”

Maryland, home to NSA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Cyber Command and legions of high-tech firms working in cyber security, has played a critical role in the public-private development of U.S. cyber defenses, the general said.

Daniel agreed.

“Maryland really does serve as an epicenter for information security and innovation,” he said.

Daniel said the public-private approach allows both sides to leverage the expertise and experiences of the other and move quickly than the government would alone.

“Traditional government regulation and lawmaking don’t move at internet speed,” he said. “A purely government prescription is a prescription for failure. Our multi-stakeholder approach is modeled on the institutions that built the internet itself.”

The state launched CyberMaryland in 2010 to cement the state’s status as a leader in cybersecurity. The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, a partnership of the state, Montgomery County and NIST, was founded in February to speed development of cybersecurity solutions and enhance collaboration among the government, private sector and academia.

“We are at the center of science and security,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “There are so many jobs that need to be created, that need to be filled in cybersecurity.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, one of the most outspoken proponents of Maryland’s cybersecurity community, referred to the state as “Fort Cyber.”

Too many people view cyber as a problem of the future rather than one of the present, she said.

“We are at war in cyberspace. We are at war and we can’t forget it,” Mikulski said. “The battlefield is real. And the battleships are being built right here in Maryland.”