Archives For Industry News

This vacant property at 500 Old Post Road in Aberdeen is included in the expanded Edgewood/Joppa Enterprise Zone.

This vacant property at 500 Old Post Road in Aberdeen is included in the expanded Edgewood/Joppa Enterprise Zone.

Growing your business in parts of Baltimore City and Harford County just got a little bit easier.

Additional Maryland Enterprise Zone Focus Areas were announced Wednesday by Governor Martin O’Malley through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). These jurisdictions—administered by local government and approved by DBED—will allow businesses to access income tax and property tax credits.

“I am pleased to approve these new Focus Areas in Baltimore City and the expansion of Harford County’s Edgewood/Joppa Enterprise Zone, which will help sustain existing businesses and attract much-needed new businesses to help us achieve our most important goal of creating and retaining jobs,” said Governor O’Malley. “Businesses located in the State’s 30 Enterprise Zones contributed to $2.5 billion in capital investment in Maryland in FY 2014.”

Two of the new areas are located in the Holabird and Orangeville industrial areas of Baltimore City, covering 846 acres and including over a dozen underdeveloped and underutilized sites which have been vacant or occupied by businesses slated for closing. The Baltimore Development Corporation website shows how Baltimore City Enterprise Zone tax credits can be applied to qualifying companies.

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Cellphire has earned a $1 million investment from the Maryland Venture Fund.

In their usual state, platelets don’t have a very long shelf life. These life-saving blood cells are crucial to helping a person stop bleeding, but medical professionals have struggled to store these blood cells for any longer than five days outside of the human body. 

Cellphire, an early-stage biotechnology company based in Rockville, Maryland, has developed an innovative response to this problem—freeze drying platelets for future use. Through their technique, platelets may be stored for years at room temperature and reconstituted, simply by adding water, for use in medical patients.

Governor Martin O’Malley and Secretary Dominick Murray of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development announced on Tuesday that the State’s InvestMaryland program, administered by the Maryland Venture Fund, will support the company’s continued technological development with a $1 million investment. Cellphire plans to use the State funding toward the continued development of its freeze-dried platelet product, Thrombosomes, and to move closer to winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

“The underlying technology that Cellphire has developed promises to provide a quantum leap forward in how cells are handled and used within healthcare today,” Cellphire CEO Stephen H. Willard said in a statement.

“Our initial application—platelets—is a perfect example, as untreated platelets last five days outside of a donor’s body. With our patented treatment, we are able to freeze dry platelet derived products for storage measured in years, at room temperature. Reconstitution is as simple as adding sterile water. This investment from MVF enables us to begin pursuing other applications in diagnostics, sports medicine, plastic surgery and dentistry,” Willard said.

Cellphire was founded as a bio-defense company in 2006 with an emphasis on stabilizing the global blood supply market in the event of pandemics, such as avian influenza or other natural or manmade disasters. It has found applications for the use of freeze dried platelets in blood transfusion, advanced care of chronic and acute wounds and diagnostic reagents used in clinical and research settings. In 2013, the company received a contract worth up to $57 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research Defense Authority, a division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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Often, the only thing standing between a willing worker and employment is specialized training. But determining which skills are most needed in various industries can be a daunting task.

The EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) program, launched by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in 2013, seeks to address this challenge and equip Maryland organizations and business partnerships with State funding for valuable worker training programs directly tailored to industry needs.

The program continued its rollout this week as the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation announced 28 implementation grant awardees. Selected applicants received grants to plan training programs in January 2014. Finalized Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plans were submitted during the spring and reviewed for funding.

The average implementation grant award was $179,302. The two-phase process of planning grants and implementation grants was funded by the state at $4.5 million.

“There is no progress without a job. By awarding today’s State-funded implementation grants to these selected strategic partnerships, we’re moving our State forward and helping more Marylanders get the skills they need to qualify for Maryland’s most in-demand jobs.  Working together, we’re ensuring that these EARN implementation grants will provide industry-specific, state-of-the-art training for high-demand occupations,” Governor O’Malley said in a statement. Continue Reading…

Tom Vander Ark is an authority on education technology.

Tom Vander Ark is an authority on education technology.

Tom Vander Ark is an authority on education technology, also known as edtech, a field including startup companies developing apps and other new technologies to serve teachers, administrators, parents and students. Ark is the author of “Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World,” and a partner in an education venture investment firm called Learn Capital. Previously, he was executive director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund the transformation of Baltimore’s former Southern High School into Digital Harbor High in 2002.

Ark recently spoke with MDBIZ News about why he views Baltimore at the forefront for edtech. The following comments are condensed from that interview:

Why is Baltimore a major edtech hub?

“The interesting thing about Baltimore is that edtech is new, except that it’s not. Baltimore has some great legacy companies that have been in the education space for 20 years and several large education investors like Chris Hoehn-Saric and Doug Becker (who developed Sylvan Learning and Laureate Education). Sterling Partners in Baltimore is one of the best private equity investors in education. They launched Connections Education, which sold to Pearson four years ago (for $400 million). They launched Sylvan and Laureate, probably the most important global higher education brand there is. Calvert Street is a private equity firm with some educational investments. And you also have Calvert Education Services.”

Why is edtech emerging now?

“In 2010, an app explosion occurred. Overnight, there was an abundance of cheap devices and good development platforms and a flood of investment that really changed the edtech landscape nationally. It changed opportunities dramatically. Also, this generation of college graduates has a relatively high degree of idealism. You put opportunity, interest and a mission-focus together and many smart kids wanted to work in education. And you had plenty of money flowing from private and philanthropic sources. You also had changes in school development like the charter school movement and in talent development with young people going to programs like Teach for America. Edtech is finally being connected to education reform.

“There has been a viral adoption of free apps in the classroom since 2009-2010. I’m not sure how many of these free apps will turn the corner and become profitable companies, but now there’s a way to gain school adoption and you don’t have to go through the district procurement officer to get in the door. I just met with a superintendent in Texas and asked him if he knew that 40 percent of his teachers were already using Edmodo (a free social network app for school work). He didn’t know. I said, ‘Maybe, I should give you a demo on it?’ It’s a lot easier being able to have that kind of conversation rather than simply pitching him with, ‘I have a good demo. Can I show it to you?’”

How does Baltimore stack up nationally?

“New York, Chicago and the Northern California Bay Area will be important for this industry, but there are a few thousand really good jobs that could just as easily be in Baltimore, Seattle, Boston, Austin or other venture cities. I think Baltimore is in the middle of the second tier as far as edtech cities. Baltimore sits above places like Seattle, Austin and San Diego, which are all tech hotspots, and also rates ahead of Portland, Raleigh-Durham and other cities we think of as innovators. Our index considers about 12 factors. The most heavily weighted is the number of edtech startups, but we also consider the tech scene broadly, the online learning ecosystem and other factors such as universities, state education policy, charter schools, school district innovation, philanthropic investors and nonprofits.”

What made you take notice of Baltimore?

“When I was with the Gates Foundation, we made an initial grant to create Digital Harbor High. This is slightly melodramatic, but an indication of what has happened in the past few years was that a teacher named Andrew Coy left Digital Harbor, arguably the best digital learning school in the area, and took over a nearby rec center and turned it into a tech learning center. He embraced the next edtech explosion. He’s starting to connect technology and teachers. I think that move was symbolic and a bit of a spark. It drew in people like Katrina Stevens, another edtech activist and a blogger. And across from Andrew’s center is the incubator Betamore. EdTechMD just started to raise money to seed more local startups. You’ve got a tech scene heating up. Andrew’s story in particular interested me. And now when he calls a meeting, everyone comes running to take part—the Chamber of Commerce, investors and foundations. It’s been fun to watch.”

Phobious helps people overcome their fears and anxieties through virtual and augmented reality on mobile devices.

Phobious helps people overcome their fears and anxieties through virtual and augmented reality on mobile devices.

The future of health technology is in the palm of your hand. Mobile communication, wearable devices, data sharing, analytics and even gaming concepts will soon seamlessly meld with medical treatment.

DreamIt Health Baltimore explored these possibilities in a four-month accelerator program that fostered nine early-stage companies. Company representatives demonstrated their products, presented plans for growth and pitched to investors during the program’s culminating Demo Day on Wednesday.

Mike Batista, CEO of Baltimore-based Quantified Care, which streamlines medical professionals’ use of mobile medical devices, called the DreamIt experience “phenomenal.”

“DreamIt is the reason we’ve been able to move so far in such a small amount of time. Our company would not be where it is now without their support—financial support, mentorship and helping us get through those low points companies inevitably fall into,” Batista said.

Participating companies received $50,000 in seed funding, extensive entrepreneurial training, coaching from industry experts, free Fells Point work space and donated legal counsel.

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Maryland Health Care Commission

Find more information on medical homes through the Maryland Health Care Commission.

In past generations, it wasn’t unusual for a family doctor to make a house call, perform a broad range of medical services and offer emotional as well as clinical support. While the traditional house call may be a thing of the past, patients today are taking advantage of a return to cooperative hands-on care in the form of patient-centered medical homes, including many in Maryland. Data shows that this care model is not only lowering costs but also improving care.

In a growing number of medical homes, doctors, nurses, care managers and medical assistants work together to help patients manage their care among different facilities, coordinate referrals to specialists and help track health outcomes. Rather than wait until he or she needs emergency care, the patient receives consistent preventative care from a familiar team of practitioners and builds a “long-term healing relationship,” according to the Maryland Health Care Commission.

Medical homes are one of the fastest growing trends in the healthcare industry. In the last six years, the number of certified medical homes nationwide has exploded, from 20 in 2008 to 6,800 today. As of January 2014, Maryland has 58 home health centers, most of which are located in areas with a large number of Medicaid patients, according to Heather DeCarlo, a health IT expert at RxNT in Annapolis.

Thanks in part to funding from the Affordable Care Act, medical home practitioners are now assisted by new forms of information technology, including electronic medical records. The ACA has also fundamentally changed how the country pays for healthcare, DeCarlo said.

Medical facilities are moving away from fee-for-service payments, which encourage more and oftentimes unnecessary medical procedures, to models that encourage cost efficiencies and improved medical outcomes, according to DeCarlo. The ACA incentivizes providers who can prove that they are bringing more services under the healthcare umbrella, like patient education and care coordination, and medical homes support this new team-based model, she said.

State officials have already found promising results among Maryland medical homes.

In 2011, through the MHCC, the Maryland Multi-Payer Patient Centered Medical Home Program began a three-year pilot study to test the medical homes care model. The study included 53 primary and multi-specialty practices throughout the State.

By the second year of the study, nearly half of the practices generated savings and overall care quality increased by approximately 10 percent, according to the MHCC.

CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Maryland is one of the State’s success stories. Through the use of medical homes, patients’ overall health care costs have been reduced by 4 percent, leading to an estimated cost savings of $40 million in 2011, according to the MHCC.

The MHCC concluded, “Physicians who practice in medical homes anecdotally report much greater satisfaction with their work than in a traditional practice; and investing in comprehensive medical home care has improved quality and reduced total cost to the system because of better care and coordination.”

The next great idea was easier to find than a necktie at TechBuzz2014, a semi-annual event put on by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) where entrepreneurs, given more to flannel shirts than business suits, pitched their fledgling companies to an auditorium full of venture capital and angel investors.

The event aimed to link investment firms with 20 promising startups seeking about $1 million to $3 million to expand their businesses, hire talent and begin building their products.

Dozens of startups have presented at six similar TechBuzz gatherings since 2010 and 40 percent received venture funding within a year as a result, said MAVA Executive Director Julia Spicer. The growth of TechBuzz over the past four years reflects growth of early and venture-stage investing in the mid-Atlantic. The Baltimore-Washington region is among the most active areas for venture investing in the country, along with California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.

Venture capital funding in Maryland increased to $663 million in 2013 from $408 million in 2012, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The state’s 63 percent growth far outpaced the national average of 7 percent. Maryland is also establishing itself as a major market for early investment, according to a report by the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) last month.

That was evident Tuesday at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club, a newly renovated Art Deco-era moviehouse, where startups, some of whom who just sold their first product weeks ago, came in search of early “angel” or “Series A” investment. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) was a co-sponsor of the event. James Keeratisakdawong, Principal with DBED’s Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), co-chaired the committee that reviewed the applicants and selected 20 companies to present.

The startups spanned a wide array of ideas and products, some targeting consumers, others geared to the enterprise market. Companies ranged from Basepair, developer of software to analyze DNA sequencing data, to Brain Sentry, a Bethesda company whose wearable helmet sensors can signal when a youngster in a contact sport needs to be checked for a possible concussion, to LoveThatFit, a “virtual fitting” technology that enables users to try on clothes “virtually” and that aims to improve online apparel shopping. Armed only with slide presentations and “elevator speeches,” the entrepreneurs had four minutes to make a pitch. A countdown clock ensured not a second more. A panel of judges then evaluated them in the venture capital equivalent of “American Idol.”

One judge, MVF Managing Director Thomas S. Dann, observed that many local startups are focused on the hot markets of cybersecurity and cloud computing. But whatever the venture, he said, “we want to see entrepreneurs focused on the problem that the customer is trying to solve and how the ROI [return on investment] they offer can attract that next customer.”

Passion was also important. The judges said they made special note of whether the entrepreneur was motivated by a “pain point” they had experienced while seeking a product or service. One example of that was Mark Olcott, who described his College Park-based company Vitus Vet as a cloud-based network of medical records for pets. He described an example of a dog named Bogey that was brought to an emergency clinic for treatment after being injured. The pet died later that night because it couldn’t tolerate the type of anesthesia administered.

Olcott revealed he was the vet.

“I felt like I got kicked in the stomach,” he said.

Startups also must not overlook the potential competition for what they’re trying to create, said Dayna Grayson, a Partner at New Enterprise Associates, which ranked sixth last year for investments in Maryland, according to a recent Baltimore Business Journal survey. “A lot of presenters today didn’t talk about competitors,” she said. “Many large public companies have few direct competitors. It’s not enough to say you’re going to be among the best of five or six.”

Ultimately, as one investor judge told the entrepreneurs, the proof is in the product: “You get enough customers,” he remarked, “then you don’t need our money.”

A sweet fact—14 percent of the nation’s sugar is processed right here in Maryland.

Domino Foods, a mainstay of Baltimore’s skyline for over 90 years, refines more than 6.5 million pounds of raw sugar a day. Its facility, which blends new technology with historic factory space, employs roughly 620 people. And according to refinery manager Stuart FitzGibbon, these jobs are unique.

“These jobs provide a level of income where you can further your family’s position in life,” FitzGibbon said. “The type of income you can earn in manufacturing without an education is unparalleled. This is the fundamental difference between manufacturing and service sector jobs.”

FitzGibbon, a 26-year veteran of the company, is a cheerleader for Maryland manufacturing, which he calls a “lynchpin in the economy.”

He tells of employees who first starting working on the factory floor over 30 years ago. At the time, very few had college degrees and some hadn’t finished high school. Decades later, even as the plant has become increasingly automated, they’ve remained working, advanced their positions and sent their kids to college.

“It’s a model that’s created the American middle class,” he said.

Governor Martin O’Malley shares FitzGibbon’s enthusiasm for manufacturing. The Governor chose the plant as the backdrop for a recent job numbers announcement.

“There are hundreds of jobs here at Domino but there are also hundreds and hundreds more that are part of this ripple effect, so you’re standing in the sweet spot of the Baltimore economy,” Governor O’Malley said.

Governor O’Malley has supported manufacturers through infrastructure improvements on roads and rail, and expansion efforts at the Port of Baltimore. He also spearheaded the State’s EARN Maryland Program, which gives industry leaders access to state funding to coordinate worker training programs, with an emphasis on advanced manufacturing skills.

FitzGibbon urges Marylanders to take pride in using products made by Maryland manufacturers and support initiatives to revitalize the industry.

“Maryland has the opportunity to grow its manufacturing sector because we have the Chesapeake Bay, we have railroad service, great roads, and a supportive legislative environment,” he said. “I think this is a key thing for Maryland—we’ve got to grow private sector maritime manufacturing.”

DreamIt Ventures‘ Baltimore accelerator is adding another prestigious partner to its ranks: Kaiser Permanente will join the organization’s leadership team, alongside Johns Hopkins UniversityNorthrop Grumman Corporation and BioHealth Innovation.

“We look forward to working with these very promising new healthcare technology companies where we can provide access to industry leading health professionals and a real world laboratory to test the usability and effectiveness of next generation technology solutions” Kim Horn, president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., said in a statement.

Through DreamIt Health Baltimore 2014, industry leaders and investors help support new healthcare information technology startups. Early-stage venture capital funding is offered to select companies that are “tackling significant problems, with sizable market opportunities, exceptional teams and demonstrated progress to date,” according to DreamIt Ventures.

DreamIt Ventures also acknowledges the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development as a major support for heath IT startups.

Nine new startups will participate in DreamIt Health Baltimore 2014, including the following:

  • Aegle (Baltimore) – Wearable biometric devices
  • Avhana (Baltimore) - Next-generation clinical decision support for the electronic health record
  • Cognuse (Talinn, Estonia) - Cognitive rehabilitation of stroke and traumatic brain injury patients through mobile games
  • EMOCHA (Baltimore) - Mobile capture of data for medication adherence and clinical trials
  • Protenus (Baltimore) - Digital management of patient consent and other administrative workflows
  • Respi (Athens, Greece) - Smartphone-based spirometry and respiratory data platform
  • Patient Feed – (Pittsburgh and New York City): Collaboration tool for inpatient care
  • Phobious (Barcelona, Spain) - Treatment of behavioral health issues through mobile, augmented reality
  • The Smartphone Physical (Baltimore) - Integration and distribution of clinically-relevant mobile health devices

Find more information on DreamIt Health Baltimore 2014 here.


Just in time for the holidays, Maryland added 8,900 jobs in November, new data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. Announcing the jobs growth on Friday at KEYW Corp, a Hanover-based cyber defense firm, Governor Martin O’Malley spotlighted the state’s growing cybersecurity industry.

November’s influx of jobs includes the highest number of private sector jobs added in a single month since 2007, the governor’s office announced. Of the new jobs created, the private sector contributed 6,600, while the public sector contributed 2,300. Since November 2012, Maryland has added a total of 33,500 jobs, an increase of 1.3 percent. The state’s preliminary unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent, from 6.7 percent in October to 6.4 percent in November.

Among the biggest contributing jobs sectors are Professional and Business Services, which added 3,100 jobs and Natural Resources, Mining & Construction, which added 2,300 jobs.

Cybersecurity, included in the Professional and Business Services sector, is continuing to support Maryland’s economic recovery, employing more than 130,000 Marylanders at over 11,000 businesses and generating $11.88 billion in annual wages. It also attracted $7.76 billion in federal investment last year, according to the governor’s office.

“I’m pleased to announce this latest round of jobs gains on the grounds of one of Maryland’s cybersecurity leaders right here in Hanover. Every choice we make is about creating jobs and expanding opportunities for more Marylanders,” the governor said in a statement. “Homegrown companies like KEYW are the backbone of our innovation economy and provide hardworking moms and dads across our State with family-sustaining jobs.”

A preschooler peels back the label on a Crayola crayon. A happy hour-goer grasps a chilled bottle of Yuengling. A young mother reads the nutritional facts on a canister of Walgreens brand snacks.

They’re all handling a range of easily-overlooked Maryland-manufactured inputs—the labels.

Since 1896, Gamse Lithographing Company, has produced and printed labels for millions of everyday items in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Based in Rosedale in Baltimore County, the company’s clients include Crayola, Heinz, Yuengling, Walgreens, Walmart and others. In recent years, its manufacturing capabilities have extended beyond labels to include lids, wrappers, foil, embossing, die cutting and a range of other services.

Coordinated by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Governor Martin O’Malley recently toured Gamse Lithographing Company with president and owner Daniel J. Canzoniero. The governor used the opportunity to meet some of the company’s 150 employees and to learn more about the innovative printing technologies that set the manufacturer apart.

“In this day and age, where there have been a lot of companies closing and a lot of downsizing and rightsizing, we haven’t been through that. It’s really nice to have some recognition for the stability that we’ve shown here over the years,” Canzoniero said.

Part of Gamse Lithographing Company’s secret to longevity is a dedication to the employee. The company has a long history of offering quality health coverage to workers, in addition to a competitive living wage. Canzoniero said the company is constantly working to expand each employee’s skillset through the use of new equipment and training programs.

“We’re strong believers in the fact that there need to be employers in Maryland for high school educated and trade school educated employees, not just those who were fortunate enough to get college educations, masters and Ph.D.s,” he said.

Canzoniero praised Maryland for its exceptional workforce and central location, which eases product development and negotiations with clients.

“We have good geographic synergy with a lot of the major Fortune 100 companies, being in the Mid-Atlantic,” he said.

See the above video to learn more about Gamse Lithographing Company.

Governor Martin O’Malley spotlighted Gamse Lithographing Company's dedication to providing employees a living wage and reliable health coverage.

Governor Martin O’Malley spotlighted Gamse Lithographing Company’s dedication to providing employees a living wage and reliable health coverage.

Since 1896, Gamse Lithographing Company in Rosedale, Maryland has made labels for commercial items across America.

Since 1896, Gamse Lithographing Company in Rosedale, Maryland has made labels for commercial items across America.

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

A growing number of firms in the medical device industry call Maryland home. But this week, a select group has ventured across the globe to participate in MEDICA, the world’s leading trade fair for medicine and medical technology.

Between Nov. 20 and Nov. 23, international medical market leaders, including 4,641 exhibitors from 66 countries, are descending on Dusseldorf, Germany for a range of MEDICA events. The BioMaryland Center, through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, is a state exhibitor, promoting Maryland’s medical-friendly business environment and also sponsoring attendance from participating companies.

“It really is a global event. We’re going to have probably over 150,000 visitors to our state booth,” said Carey Esslinger, regional manager over Europe, Russia, FSU, Latin America and the Balkans for Maryland DBED.

Maryland companies in attendance include Harmans-based AIV Inc.; Hanover-based BTE Technologies; Ijamsville-based BioAssay Works, LLC; Frederick-based BioElectronics Corporation; Annapolis-based Compass Languages; Westminster-based ImmunO4; Bethesda-based Dimetek Digital Medical Technologies Ltd.; Landover-based Man & Machine, Inc.; Germantown-based Medispec Ltd.; Rockville-based Tetracore, Inc.; and Pasadena-based Moss Inc.

Roughly half of the companies are showing in the Maryland booth, while others have “graduated” to become individual exhibitors, Esslinger said.

In recent years, Maryland’s participation in the show has planted the seeds for exporting agreements and foreign investment deals.

“It’s a perfect platform for Maryland companies looking to expand their sales internationally,” Esslinger said. “We have a number of Maryland companies attending the show this year, including manufacturers such as Man & Machine, who design water-proof keyboards used in hospitals, and Tetracore, which has developed a field testing kit for biological agents.”

The state, now considered a regular on the show floor, has developed a global reputation.

“Maryland’s strengths—such as proximity to federal facilities like the FDA, state of the art medical institutions like Johns Hopkins University and a highly educated workforce—are recognized and respected internationally,” he said.

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013