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Video by Emily Kimball Pope

In one corner, students pounded a vortex machine, sending rings of air catapulting to the ceiling. Across the room, teenagers struck poses in front of an advanced camera to create blueprints for tiny 3-D prints of themselves.

The Digital Harbor Foundation opened the doors of its technological playground to visitors last week during its 2nd Anniversary Showcase. Enthusiastic students, working to become Baltimore’s next generation of tech professionals and entrepreneurs, greeted more than 200 attendees.

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The second annual InvestMaryland Challenge is in full swing. If your business is in need of a jump start, check out this site for more information about the national business competition. The Challenge offers applicants free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors and the chance to compete for more than $600,000 in prizes. Winners of the Life Sciences, IT, Cybersecurity and General Industry categories will each win $100,000 awards. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Judges include a distinguished lineup of industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Meet a selection of judges below.

Meet The Judges:



Robb Doub joined New Markets Venture Partners in 2003. Robb is the lead administrative partner and serves as a board director for eCoast Sales Solutions and Appfluent Technology, and is lead partner or board observer for K2 Global, Kroll Bond Ratings, Navtrak, Three Stage Media, CSA Medical and TidalTV. He also serves on the board of Egeen International and the Conflicts Advisory Board of the off-shore hedge funds.


Daphne Dufresne joined RLJ Equity Partners from Parish Capital Advisors, where she was a Venture Partner managing the direct investment and co-investment program. Formerly, Ms. Dufresne was a Principal at Weston Presidio Capital with $3.4 billion of assets under management. She also served as Associate Director in the Bank of Scotland’s Structured Finance Group. Ms. Dufresne received her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Christy Williams Wyskiel is an entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience focused on the life sciences and healthcare industries. Previously, Christy was Managing Director at Maverick Capital, an equity hedge fund with $12 billion under management. She co-founded GrayBug, an ophthalmic drug-delivery company. In 2012, Christy joined the Johns Hopkins Alliance, a board charged with evaluating the commercial viability of research projects at JHU.


Frederick J. Ferrer has over three decades of experience in the National Security, Intelligence Community (IC), Homeland Defense and Cyber. Mr. Ferrer holds a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and serves in a number of leadership capacities, including the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence; National STEM Consortium Advisory Committee; and Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.


As the Executive Director and President of the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, Ms. Tillett is responsible for management of budgetary, administrative, programmatic functions and strategic planning. Prior to joining ETC, Ms. Tillett served as president and co-founder of Immersive 3D, LLC, a technology start-up providing web-based 3D computer gaming solutions for K-20 education and offering contract-based technology services.

See the full list of judges and submit your application on

New Grand Prix of Baltimore logo

The Grand Prix of Baltimore is a “Celebration of Acceleration.”

Less than seven months before city streets are transformed into a 12-turn, two-mile IndyCar racetrack, Grand Prix of Baltimore planners are drumming up excitement with a new logo and tagline.

The former “Festival of Speed” will now be known as a “Celebration of Acceleration.” The new tagline is accompanied by an enhanced website and social media presence, as well as a new logo with “cleaner graphic
elements for improved legibility and reproduction,” race planners announced this week in a statement.

“We’re pleased to introduce a new look and feel for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT,” stated Debbie Bell, vice president of sales and marketing for Race On, which is promoting the event. “Our Celebration of Acceleration tagline perfectly captures the spirit of the event, and our redesigned website is the ideal platform to keep fans up to speed on Grand Prix details as they are announced.”

The third annual race is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

Walk Annapolis

MainStreets Annapolis is promoting walkable shopping.

Leave the car behind and hit some stores—that’s the message behind the new Walk Annapolis initiative.

The program divides downtown Annapolis into five main shopping districts, no larger than the average shopping mall. Colorful maps and banners urge customers to explore each district on foot:

  • City Dock and Main Street
  • Maryland Avenue and State Circle
  • West Annapolis
  • West Street
  • Eastport

The program was created by the MainStreets Annapolis Partnership, a nonprofit organization of local business owners, property owners, the City of Annapolis, lenders, real estate professionals, residents, and local business and community associations. Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, MainStreets Annapolis Partnership Chairman Steve Samaras and others plan to launch the program at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at 122 Main Street.

“One of the qualities that makes Annapolis special is that we have unique, locally-owned fashion boutiques and specialty gift shops tucked between art galleries, pubs, restaurants and inns,” Cohen stated in an email. “The opportunity to enjoy the historic and maritime charm of the city while walking through the various shopping and dining districts is just one example of Annapolis’ enduring appeal.”

“People might think it’s easier to walk around Westfield Mall than it is to walk around downtown Annapolis,” Samaras stated in a press release. “But if you look at these images, you’ll see that the walk from Church Circle to City Dock is no further than the walk from Macy’s to Nordstrom’s.”

Do you shop local? Share your tips for buying close to home in the comments.

Walk Annapolis

A satellite view of downtown Annapolis overlaid with the footprint of Annapolis Town Center Mall illustrates the walk-ability of downtown compared to these other shopping areas.

 MSNBC JJ Ramberg

MSNBC’s JJ Ramberg is planning to present a free lecture in Baltimore on April 9.

Looking to transform your small business? JJ Ramberg, the longtime host of MSNBC’s “Your Business,” may offer some ideas.

On April 9, at 500 West Baltimore St. in Baltimore, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is sponsoring a free book signing and lecture featuring Ramberg. Starting at 4:30 p.m., she plans to sign copies of her bestselling book, ”It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips That Will Transform Your Small Business.” The lecture, ”An Evening of Entrepreneurship with JJ Ramberg,” is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

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Local University: Baltimore

Baltimore area businesses attended the Local U conference in White Marsh.

Nearly anything is better than nothing when it comes to Internet marketing for small businesses, online marketing expert Aaron Weiche said during Friday’s Local University: Baltimore conference at the Hilton Garden Inn in White Marsh.

“If you understand what [online marketing] is, you’re much more likely to do something. Actionable takeaways is one of the main reasons we do this. We need to take it away from a tech sort of thing and show people that it’s just an extension of how you do business,” said Weiche, one of several presenters during the Google-sponsored conference.

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The BWI Business Partnership is hosting a summit.

The BWI Business Partnership is hosting a summit.

The BWI Business Partnership Regional Economic Development Summit is expected to include opening remarks from Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Dominick Murray.

Between 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on March 14 at the BWI Hilton Hotel, the conference will focus on regional economic pressures and the role of county government leadership in stimulating the economy. Tickets are $50 for members and $75 for non-members.

More information is available on the BWI Business Partnership’s website here.

Baltimore-based RedOwl Analytics is competing in the InvestMaryland Challenge.

Baltimore-based RedOwl Analytics is competing in the InvestMaryland Challenge.

Check back for Q&A profiles on all the competition finalists.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge is down to its final round with just 33 companies competing for more than $300,000 in grants and business services. The final winners will be announced during the Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony on April 15.

One of the companies, selected out of more than 250 applicants, is Baltimore-based RedOwl Analytics. To find out a little more about this up-and-coming company—founded in December 2011 by CEO Guy Filippelli—we spoke with Director of Business Development and Strategy Renny McPherson and Director of Product Les Craig.

Q. What does RedOwl Analytics do, and how would you explain it to the average person?

A. [McPherson] We have a sophisticated enterprise software solution which is behavioral analytics and behavioral intelligence for large companies, such as financial services or legal and investigative firms. It also could have uses later to Fortune 500 companies and to the U.S. government for the intelligence community and other government entities. What we do is ingest the ever-growing, massive corporate digital trail of emails, phone records, Blackberry messenger, Bloomberg chat, layer on our sophisticated inferential statistics, in addition to more commonplace descriptive statistics, cutting edge inferential statistics, and display that on a visually intuitive user interface to empower executives, managers and analysts to understand what’s happening in their organization, how behavior has changed and signals of problem behaviors.

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investmdchallengeThe InvestMaryland Challenge is heating up with 33 companies advancing to the final round.

Hosted by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, the competition will award $300,000 in grants and business services to companies in the life sciences and high tech industries. Companies also have the opportunity to receive direct investments from venture capital firms and angel investors.

The 33 remaining semi-finalists were selected out of more than 250 applicants. Representatives of each company will participate in 15-minute face-to-face interviews with Maryland DBED on March 5. The Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony for the final winners in all three categories is planned for April 15.

“On behalf of the State and its partners in the inaugural InvestMaryland Challenge, I would like to congratulate the companies that have advanced this far,” DBED Secretary Dominick Murray stated in a press release. “The Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for these startups and for Maryland to celebrate the vibrant entrepreneurial community that is producing so many promising young companies. These entrepreneurs are pushing the boundaries of life sciences, information technology, and other industries and are helping to position Maryland as a global leader in the Innovation Economy.”

A list of all companies advancing to the final round, sorted by category, is after the break.

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Two upcoming seminars are aimed at assisting small businesses in the Baltimore area with Internet marketing.

“Local University: Baltimore” will offer introductory training on search engines, website optimization, social media, business rankings in local search and website traffic, as well as a question and answer session with a Google representative. Planned between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on March 8 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5015 Campbell Blvd. in White Marsh. Tickets are $129 each, but a promotion price of $89 is available here with the code “MDSBDC.” Tickets sales and the planned agenda can also be found here. Google, Citybizlist Baltimore, Overlea Fullerton Business & Professional Association, Pulaski Highway Business Association, Perry Hall/White Marsh Business Association, Stingray Social, DAASN and Progressive Insurance are sponsoring the event.

“Local University: Advanced Baltimore” begins with an evening meet and greet. On the following morning, it will offer advanced training on local blocking and tackling tactics, information on optimizing review processes, an open question and answer session and in-depth discussions on social media and advertising. Planned between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 8, and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 9 at the Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Rd. in Hunt Valley. Tickets are $899 each. Tickets sales and the planned agenda can be found here. Google and SEOmoz are sponsoring the event.

As we noted yesterday, the federal infrastructure is huge and growing in Maryland. That’s great for everyone in the state, as it adds workforce opportunities and expands the culture of innovation throughout Maryland.

It’s also a world of opportunity for Maryland Businesses many of whom have regular — and lucrative — contracting relationships with federal facilities.

To help foster those relationships, DBED is once again mounting Contract Connections, a day-long forum showcasing federal facilities in Maryland and their contracting opportunities.  Attendees will be able to meet face-to-face with top federal agencies and their contracting officers, hear industry forecasts, subcontracting opportunities and tips on how best to secure more federal contracts.

This year’s event is March 15th, at Turf Valley Resort near Ellicott City, Maryland. Registration is open now, but limited.



CreateBaltimore is coming Saturday, February 16, 2013:

CreateBaltimore has become an annual gathering of Baltimore-based innovators and changemakers. In an intense, day-long event, members of our city’s robust creative community combine ideas and action on behalf of Baltimore. We offer a unique opportunity to connect disparate groups: technologists and artists, entrepreneurs and activists, institutions and instigators, young students and seasoned professionals. At CreateBaltimore, individuals from these seemingly isolated groups are united by their shared commitment to this city.

If you are passionate about what you do, willing to challenge your thoughts, ready to share your opinion, and believe you can learn and grow from others, this event is for you. Ultimately, anyone with an open mind and an innovative spirit can help make Baltimore a lively, thriving, sustainable city.

You can register for CreateBaltimore on their website.