Archives For December 2012

From The Baltimore Sun:

A weekend strike by dockworkers from Maine to Texas has been averted after union and management negotiators settled a major sticking point and agreed to extend the contract deadline for 30 days while they hammer out the rest of a six-year deal.

The announcement came late Friday morning from federal mediator George Cohen, who entered talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance in the fall.

Full story here.


Christian Johansson announced this morning, in a letter to staff, that he will be leaving the agency to join Maryland-based Laureate Education.

Johansson’s announcement is included below.

Before we break for the holidays, I wanted to let you know that I will be leaving DBED after nearly four years as Secretary to join Maryland-based Laureate Education as head of a new group focused on university partnerships in the United States.  I am also pleased to announce that Governor O’Malley has appointed Dominick Murray the new Secretary of the Department and Bob Walker as Deputy Secretary. As you know, Dominick has been with DBED since 2007, and has an extensive background in both economic development as well as the private sector. Over the coming weeks, Dominick, Bob and I will be transitioning our roles, but I cannot think of two better people to lead the Department and continue the tremendous progress that we have made.

First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you for your hard work and dedication to our core mission of creating and retaining jobs, building on industry strengths, driving tourism, film and the arts and spurring a culture where entrepreneurship and innovation can thrive. Together, we implemented bold initiatives like InvestMaryland, which not only helps seed the start-up companies of today, but creates the innovative companies and jobs of tomorrow. We also helped connect small businesses with credit at a time it was needed most through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which has helped create nearly 900 jobs and leverage $74 million in private sector funding.

While there are certainly many more accomplishments of which we can be proud, the most important is the progress we have made as a team. Today, Maryland has the 7th fastest job recovery rate in the nation, is a global leader in high-growth industries like life sciences and cyber security, and is ranked #1 in the nation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for innovation and entrepreneurship. All of these good things are due, in large part, to our commitment to excellence and progress here at DBED.

Once again, it was a pleasure to work with such a talented team of professionals and I wish you all the best.



Jeremy Johnson. Photo courtesy of 2U.

Jeremy Johnson. Photo courtesy of 2U.

Landover’s 2U, an innovative provider of online instruction for top-tier universities, has yet another reason to crow this month: Their cofounder Jeremy Johnson was just named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Education list.

The 30 Gen-Yers on our list are innovators, advocates, thought-leaders and reformers. Through outreach initiatives and engineering they’re committed, like my mom, to giving kids everywhere the best chance at success. They’re committed to making the lives of teachers like her just a little bit easier, whether through technology that saves them precious minutes communicating with parents or helps them use data analytics to track performance more efficiently than traditional paper grade books ever could.

Forbes calls Johnson “the standout in the category“:

2U, which until October had been called 2tor, is a pioneer in offering for-credit graduate level coursework, beginning with master’s degrees from the likes of the University of Southern California and Georgetown. The company, which Johnson cofounded with Princeton Review founder John Katzman and former Hooked on Phonics CEO Chip Paucek, has raised $96 million in venture capital and recently announced its first ever undergraduate courses offered by a consortium of top-tier universities including Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. “Our goal is to find a way to create online experiences that have the same student outcomes, the same level of quality as on campus at the best schools in the world,” says Johnson. “To do that requires actual interaction with professors, small group classes, and real admission standards.” 2tor’s clever business model involves a tuition share with the participating universities. Details? Top-secret.

You can see the full 30 Under 30 – Education coverage on

Also: Jeremy Johnson, 2U Co-Founder and President of Undergraduate Programs, Named to Forbes “30 Under 30” (News Release)



The rapidly growing University of Maryland Biopark in Baltimore announced today that Noxilizer, Inc., a sterilization technology company, is the latest advancing life sciences company to sign a lease for space within the BioPark.

“Noxilizer is excited to move its operations as part of our strategy to become a larger part of the greater Baltimore and University of Maryland communities,” said Lawrence Bruder, Noxillizer President & Chief Executive Officer.  “The BioPark’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities will accelerate Noxilizer’s growth by enabling us to operate a high-level microbiology and contract sterilization business for our customers.”

Noxilizer relocates to the UM BioPark from the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park in Baltimore County to accommodate the company’s expansion plans.

News Release: Noxilizer, Inc. Signs Lease to Relocate to University of Maryland BioPark

Previously: Noxilizer hits milestone with first sale of sterilization system (Baltimore Business Journal)

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The inaugural InvestMaryland Challenge business competition has drawn 259* applicants who will be competing for three $100,000 prizes and about $150,000 worth of in-kind business services.

The challengers hail from at least 10 states, including Maryland and Washington D.C. (The Department of Business and Economic Development is still sifting through the list. The deadline was midnight.)

More than 60 judges, most of them professional investors and entrepreneurs themselves, will gradually winnow the list down through early 2013 and the winners will be announced in April.

Top prizes will be awarded in life sciences, information technology and an open, general category.

Maryland companies can enter any of the categories. Out-of-state companies can enter the general category and would be expected to establish a place of business in the state and spend at least 51 percent of the grant money within the state.

The Challenge is funded by InvestMaryland, which raised $84 million in March to make venture capital investments in promising, young Maryland companies.

*We reported the contest drew 257 applications when this item was first posted. The final tally is actually 259.

Baltimore’s Legg Mason announced Thursday it will acquire Fauchier Partners, a European investment firm, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

Fauchier will be combined with Legg affiliate Permal. The new entity will have about $24 billion in assets under management.

“This transaction significantly expands Permal’s institutional business, creating a global institutional capability across geographies and client profiles,” interim Legg CEO Joe Sullivan said in the company’s statement. “The strength of this combined platform will be an important driver of Permal’s future growth as clients in the alternatives sector increasingly look for providers with size and scale. This is an important step to growing our alternatives capabilities through Permal.”

Across the Inner Harbor from Legg, Under Armour has fast become Baltimore’s leader in corporate cachet thanks in no small part to the bold new uniforms the company has designed for college and pro sports teams around the world.

ESPN’S Uni Watch caught up with Adam Clement, UA’s senior design manager for on-field product, for a Q&A.

The first part covers the “Maryland Pride” uniforms worn by the Terps football team. The second touches more generally on Clement’s and the company’s design work.

Interesting stuff at the intersection of sporting and sartorial.

Also in the BBJ — Maryland restaurant sales are expected to climb 3.7 percent next year, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Such growth would take sales to $10.29 billion from the $9.92 billion this year. Don’t forget to leave a tip.

Retail sales excluding gasoline purchases were up 0.8 percent last month, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

The gains were broad-based, including electronics and appliance sales climbing 2.5 percent likely due to consumers taking advantage of post-Thanksgiving deals. Sales at home improvement stores rose 1.6 percent as the East Coast recovered from Hurricane Sandy.

You could soon have a personal shopper in the form of a body scanner, according to this story in The Sun.

The machines, to be installed in malls, would take detailed measurements of a shopper’s body using low-power radio signals and use that information to recommend products at participating retailers.

The U.S. again led all countries in the IPO market this year, according to Bloomberg. Initial public offerings raised $52.34 billion in the U.S.

China finished second with $20.11 billion.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Plasmonix and Bambeco have received the latest investments through InvestMaryland, the Department of Business and Economic Development announced Thursday.

The state made equity investments of $100,000 in Plasmonix and $200,000 in Bambeco, which also received $400,000 through InvestMaryland last month.

“Companies like Plasmonix and Bambeco continue to shape the future of Maryland’s economy by growing the jobs of tomorrow,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “These are the first of what will be dozens of investments over the coming months thanks to InvestMaryland’s significant impact on our State’s innovative companies.”

InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. In March, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies.

Two-thirds of the InvestMaryland funds will be managed by carefully screened private venture firms, who will invest the funds with a commitment to return, if successful, 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. Grotech Ventures was tapped last week as the first InvestMaryland partner and received $12 million to invest on behalf of the state. The remaining third will be invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.

So far, the state has made eight investments through InvestMaryland. DBED has also launched the InvestMaryland Challenge, a business competition that will award three $100,000 top prizes and about $150,000 worth of in-kind business services to other entries.

Applications for the competition are due today (Thursday 12/13) by 11:59 p.m. EST.

“The speed with which the InvestMaryland funds are being disbursed and the strength of the companies in which we are investing show how critical this program is to the State’s entrepreneurs and start-up community,” DBED Secretary Christian Johansson said. “Investments from programs like InvestMaryland and its partners in the private sector can propel entrepreneurs from innovation to commercialization to company formation to job creation.”

Plasmonix, is a biotechnology company specializing in metal-enhanced fluorescence, which is used in cell detection for medical research and clinical diagnostics. The technology has potential applications across the life science, as well as in cosmetics, apparel, paints and lighting.

“Plasmonix is grateful for the continued support from the Maryland Venture Fund and the Department of Business and Economic Development,” said William Gust, president and CEO of Plasmonix. “These funds are critically important to the ongoing development and commercialization of Plasmonix’s technology and we would not be where we are today without this support. We hope to repay the confidence demonstrated in Plasmonix by adding jobs and growing the company here in Maryland.”

An online retailer of sustainable products, Bambeco’s catalog includes solar-powered tea lanterns, recycled scrap steel trash bins, bicycle chain bottle openers and briefcases made from recycled truck tires with seatbelt shoulder straps. The company has 24 employees and expects to double its staff in the next two years.

“We are honored to be a recipient of venture capital funding through InvestMaryland,” said Susan Aplin, Bambeco president and CEO. “Forty percent of annual retail sales in the United States occur during fourth quarter. These funds allow Bambeco to secure the necessary inventory for our planned holiday sales. We are thankful for the additional investment from InvestMaryland and thank Maryland Venture Fund, the Department of Business and Economic Development, and Governor O’Malley for their continued support as we work to create jobs and help grow Maryland’s economy.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

HBO is back in Maryland and filming the second season of the award-winning series “Veep.”

The series, set in Washington D.C. stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, a former senator turned hapless vice president. Louis-Dreyfus took home an Emmy earlier this year for her work on the first season of the show. The series was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series.

“We are very pleased that HBO and the Veep cast and crew have returned to Maryland for what we are confident will be another very successful production experience,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “The State and HBO have had a successful partnership over the years, and we look forward to more seasons of filming Veep in Maryland.”

HBO also filmed the acclaimed drama series “The Wire” in and around Baltimore and, more recently, shot part of “Game Change” in the city.

Maryland’s Film Production Employment Act of 2011, which offers tax credits to offset the cost of production, helped to secure the Veep production.

The Maryland Film Office estimates the second season of Veep could have an economic impact in excess of $40 million. The first season of Veep resulted in the hiring of 978 Maryland crew, actors and extras, and the production company purchased or rented goods or services from 1,141 Maryland vendors.

The tax credit has also helped the state land “House of Cards,” the Netflix series headlined by Kevin Spacey; “Ping Pong Summer” starring Susan Sarandon; and “Better Living Through Chemistry” starring Olivia Wilde.

hcedaThere’s a new resource for businesses in Howard County. The Howard County Economic Development Authority today launched its new website,

The site features clean site-wide navigation and a focus on utility, with major sections including “Start a business,” “Grow a business,” and “Relocate a business.”

“When we promote Maryland as an ideal location to start and grow a business, we talk about the unique characteristics of each jurisdiction,” said Christian S. Johansson, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “You can’t talk about Howard County without mentioning its positive business climate, quality of life, well-educated workforce and outstanding schools. The new HCEDA website tells the story of what makes Maryland great and will serve as a terrific resource and business development tool for the State.”

If you’re doing business in Howard County, belongs in your browser’s bookmarks.

The full release is after the break.


One-Stop Site for Businesses and Consumers Looking for Economic Development Information

COLUMBIA, MD (December 12, 2012) – The Howard County Economic Development Authority today announced the launch of its new website, The goal of the new site is to better promote Howard County, Maryland, as the premier location to live, work and do business. The new site is meant to be clean, dynamic and easy to navigate with interactive features.

“When we were looking to create a new website, we didn’t want visitors to struggle to find information,” said Laura A. Neuman, HCEDA CEO. “We wanted it to have a crisp look and feel, but more importantly, be intuitive, user-friendly and supplement the work being performed by our professional HCEDA team. We have achieved this goal.”

The homepage of the new site tells the stories of successful businesses that are already making their homes in Howard County. There are five key tabs across the top of the homepage of the site that will lead visitors to information about starting a business, growing a business, relocating a business, farms and agriculture and a link to the HCEDA’s Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. Clicking into the “Start a Business” tab, for example, provides information on everything a new business owner needs to know before setting up shop. Established businesses looking to grow will find information about funding options, real estate and workforce information. The farms and agriculture tab will lead visitors through starting a farm and even helps consumers identify local farmer’s markets.

“For companies looking to grow or relocate to Howard County, the search often begins online,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “The new HCEDA site makes an excellent first impression and in a matter of a few clicks a business or entrepreneur can find what they need to know about Howard County – from our physical climate to our business climate. I am pleased with this new economic development site. It accomplishes exactly what we wanted it to and more.”

“When we promote Maryland as an ideal location to start and grow a business, we talk about the unique characteristics of each jurisdiction,” said Christian S. Johansson, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “You can’t talk about Howard County without mentioning its positive business climate, quality of life, well-educated workforce and outstanding schools. The new HCEDA website tells the story of what makes Maryland great and will serve as a terrific resource and business development tool for the State.”

The Baltimore Business Journal reports this morning The Colonial Athletic Association will move its men’s basketball tournament from Richmond to Baltimore starting in 2014.

A group led by Towson University Athletic Director Mike Waddell, as well as leaders from the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, Visit Baltimore, First Mariner Arena, first made their pitch to bring the CAA men’s basketball tournament to 14,000-seat First Mariner Arena in May. The group made a follow-up presentation to the athletic directors of the 11-member conference on Oct. 15

Ron Bertovich, the CAA’s deputy commissioner for basketball, said at the time the conference was impressed with the city’s pitch.

“They are pros and they are passionate,” he said. “And that’s what you would like to see from everyone.”

The full story is here on the BBJ website.

Also: Read the official release on the CAA Tournament move.

Basketball image by flickr user Gonzalo Andrés. Licensed under Creative Commons. Thanks!

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The first phase of the inaugural InvestMaryland Challenge business competition is nearly over. Applications are due Thursday for businesses across the country looking to claim one of the three $100,000 top prizes or any of the in-kind business services worth a total of $125,000.

As of Monday morning, the Department of Business and Economic Development had received 180 applications from 10 states, including Maryland and Washington D.C. Applications have come from as far away as Florida and California.

The Challenge will award three $100,000 prizes to the top companies in life sciences, information technology and an open, general category. Winners will be announced in March. (View the full timeline here.)

Maryland companies can enter any of the categories. Out-of-state companies can enter the general category and would be expected to establish a place of business in the state and spend at least 51 percent of the grant money within the state.

The Challenge is funded by InvestMaryland, which raised $84 million in March to make venture capital investments in promising, young Maryland companies.

Here are a few of the more than 60 judges — professional investors, technologists, academics, and others with expertise to lend to entrepreneurs — discussing the competition:

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Grotech Ventures, a local venture capital firm, will invest $12 million on behalf of the state through the InvestMaryland program, the state announced Thursday.

Grotech is the first venture partner for InvestMaryland.

The Maryland Venture Fund Authority, which oversees InvestMaryland, tapped Grotech “because of its long history investing in early stage technology companies in Maryland and overall solid record of investment,” said authority Chairman Peter Greenleaf, who is also president of Gaithersburg-based MedImmune.

InvestMaryland, created in 2011 raised $84 million in March to invest in promising young Maryland companies in life sciences, cyber security, information technology, green energy and other targeted industries.

Private venture firms will invest two-thirds of that money, returning all of the principal and 80 percent of the profits on successful investments. The state will invest the rest.

Grotech’s $12 million is a little more than 20 percent of the $56 million that will eventually be disbursed to private venture firms.

“Through partners like Grotech and other venture firms that will invest these funds in the jobs of tomorrow, we continue to prove that Maryland remains on the cutting edge of innovation, and that our greatest assets are the talents, skills, creativity, ingenuity, and education of our people,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

Grotech was founded in 1984 and has operations in Maryland and Virginia. Its investment portfolio includes technology companies such as, Living Social, MicroProse, Zenoss and CDNow.

“Our goal with InvestMaryland is to plant the seeds for the next generation of innovative companies – the next Google, the next Microsoft – right here in Maryland,” said Christian Johansson, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development.

InvestMaryland builds on the success of the Maryland Venture Fund, which will receive most of the state’s share of the $84 million. The fund was seeded with $25 million 17 years ago and has made more than 100 investments, generating returns of more than $67 million, creating 2,000 jobs and spurring more than $1 billion follow-on private investment.

So far, four companies have received investments through InvestMaryland. Brainscope, of Bethesda, received $250,000 and Rockville-based Maxtena, $560,000. Two Baltimore companies, Bambeco and PathSensors, received $400,000 and $200,000, respectively.

InvestMaryland funds will also be awarded through the InvestMaryland Challege, a $425,000 business competition open to Maryland companies and others willing to move to the state. Through Tuesday, the Challenge had 156 applicants.

The state will give away three $100,000 prizes, one each in life sciences, IT and a general, open category. Entrants can also win $125,000 in in-kind business services.

Grotech Ventures was unable to comment due to legal restrictions on public statements during their fundraising period.