Archives For InvestMaryland

luminallogoLuminal, a rising star in Maryland’s cybersecurity community, has earned a follow-on investment of nearly $451,000 from the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), the equity investment arm of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). The investment, made with InvestMaryland funds, is part of a $10 million funding round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

Luminal specializes in cyber defense related to securing cloud computing systems. The company is relatively new to the State. Earlier this year, it relocated from West Virginia and became eligible to participate in Maryland’s cybersecurity industry incentives. The MVF previously invested $600,000 in the company. Luminal later won a $100,000 grand prize in the InvestMaryland Challenge, a DBED-sponsored national business competition. It was also the first company to take advantage of Maryland’s Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Tax Credit.


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One third of the job growth in Maryland during the last decade has been in the life sciences industry.

One third of the job growth in Maryland during the last decade has been in the life sciences industry.

Did you know that the life sciences industry accounts for one-third of Maryland’s job growth over the last decade?

Currently in the State, over 500 life sciences companies employ over 34,000 people at an average compensation of $91,000 per year. Additional Marylanders are employed by the State’s 59 federal labs and numerous academic and research institutions, according to the BioMaryland Center within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

What’s spurring this rapid growth? It’s about much more than market forces.

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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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BALTIMORE, MD (March 25, 2014) – The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced today that 12 startup companies have advanced to the final round of the InvestMaryland Challenge, the State’s national business competition. The finalists are competing for $100,000 top prizes in four categories — Information Technology, Life Sciences, General Industry, and, new this year, Cybersecurity. All companies who entered the Challenge are eligible for more than $300,000 in other prizes, including grants, software and lab and incubator space. The winners will be announced in May.

“Congratulations to the finalists and all the companies that advanced in the InvestMaryland Challenge. To stand out from the field of 260 applicants is an achievement in itself and a testament to the strength of the companies competing for the top prizes,” said Dominick Murray, DBED Secretary. “For two years in a row, Maryland has been named the #1 state in the country for innovation and entrepreneurship and companies like those competing in this Challenge are the reason why. They are the future leaders of Maryland’s Innovation Economy and we are proud to support them as they grow and create jobs.”

Now in its second year, the InvestMaryland Challenge drew 260 applicants, including 29 companies from 11 other states and Washington D.C. The field was narrowed over two rounds of judging by more than 80 investors, successful entrepreneurs, business executives and other members of the Maryland startup community. In early March, panels of judges interviewed 41 semifinalists — 14 in IT, 10 in Life Sciences, 11 in General Industry and six in Cybersecurity — and selected the 12 finalists from that pool. IT, Life Sciences and Cybersecurity were open to only Maryland companies. The General category was open to out-of-state companies as well as Maryland companies.

IT Finalists: Continue Reading…

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), through the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), has invested $75,000 in CoFoundersLab, a Rockville startup that provides an online matchmaking service for entrepreneurs. The MVF investment was made with funds raised byInvestMarylandone of Governor Martin O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives. A public-private partnership between the State and venture capital firms,InvestMaryland raised $84 million to reinvigorate the State-run MVF and support the growth of young Maryland companies in biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce and other high-growth industries.

“CoFoundersLab is an innovative, exciting young company and a valuable resource for their fellow entrepreneurs. Having a strong team in place is often the most important ingredient in a startup’s success,” said Dominick Murray, DBED Secretary. “Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses are the engine that drives Maryland’s economy and keeps our State competitive. We are proud to make this investment in CoFoundersLab and look forward to their success, and the success of the companies they touch.”

“We’re delighted to gain the support of the Maryland Venture Fund to help CoFoundersLab achieve its ambitious plans for growth. InvestMaryland has proven to be one of the most progressive state programs to help foster startups activity, the engine for job creation,” said Shahab Kaviani, Cofounder and CEO of CoFoundersLab. “With this investment we’ll continue to improve our matching algorithm and launch events in more cities so the best founding teams can unite to launch new business and create jobs for Maryland and beyond.”

CoFoundersLab is the world’s largest online community of entrepreneurs and helps them discover and connect with more than 25,000 cofounders, advisers, and interns to launch and grow new businesses. Members make connections through an online matching site at and through in-person matchup events hosted in more than 35 cities across the globe. Its success stories include ReelGenie, an online service based in Silver Spring that creates videos from a customer’s videos and photos. ReelGenie received a $150,000 investment from the MVF in July 2013. CoFoundersLab has also provided Premium Memberships to all 41 companies that advanced to the second round of the InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s national business competition.

Created by Governor O’Malley and passed by the General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. In March 2012, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies. Two-thirds of the funding – $56 million – is being managed by carefully screened private venture firms that will invest the funds and, if successful, return 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. The remaining third of the InvestMaryland capital is largely allocated to direct investments by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.

The Maryland Venture Fund is a regionally recognized leader in seed and early-stage investing and a national model for state-supported investment programs. With nearly two decades of experience and numerous successful investments, MVF invests in highly innovative technology companies across the full range of industry sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences companies in the areas of healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics.

InvestMaryland Challenge

InvestMaryland Challenge draws more than $600,000 in prizes

As the deadline draws near for applications for the second annual InvestMaryland Challenge, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that the national business competition has already secured more than $600,000 in awards for its winners. Companies will compete in four categories to win top prizes of $100,000 each as well as smaller prizes that include grants, incubator space, and business and legal services.  For an application, or more information, click here.

Applicants receive benefits of Cofounders PRO membership

Did you know your founding team is one of the most important factors investors consider when evaluating new ventures? Tap into the largest community of entrepreneurs online who are looking to launch and join new companies at As extra incentive to apply allInvestMaryland Challenge will receive a 30% discount on Cofounders PRO.

Meet the judges behind the InvestMaryland Challenge

This year’s judges lineup includes industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields from VC & investment firms, incubators, academia, federal labs and serial entrepreneurs. For a listing of competition judges click here.

December 6th application deadline

Time is running out to submit your application for the InvestMaryland Challenge. Applications include a business profile, quad chart, executive summary and full business plan. Ready, set, APPLY!

November 14, 2013 (Baltimore, MD) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that EnerTech Capital Partners and Foundation Medical Partners (FMP) have been selected to receive funds through the State’s $84 million InvestMaryland program. The venture capital firms will invest $10 and $7 million each in young, innovative Maryland companies. As part of the agreement, the firms will return to the State’s general fund 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the proceeds from successful investments. Created by Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is a historic initiative to fuel Maryland’s Innovation Economy, support entrepreneurs and stimulate job creation.

“Maryland is committed to investing in the entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses that will soon become the leaders of our growing Innovation Economy and we are excited to have EnerTech and FMP join us in that effort,” Governor O’Malley said. “InvestMaryland leverages the capital and expertise of the private sector to support young Maryland businesses as they grow and create family-sustaining jobs for the people of our State.”

“Venture capital and knowledgeable investors can mean the difference between success and failure for young companies, even those built around promising ideas and innovative technologies,” Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick E. Murray said. “InvestMaryland is just one more advantage Maryland has in the life sciences, social media, cybersecurity, big data, green energy and other high-tech fields. We look forward to working with EnerTech and FMP as they make their investments.”

“EnerTech has been investing in Maryland since shortly after our founding in 1996. We are delighted to be selected by the InvestMaryland team and welcome their participation in our final close of EnerTech Capital Partners IV,” said Tucker Twitmyer, Managing Director of EnerTech. “The State has an impressive track record in our sector and we look forward to helping Maryland’s workforce create the next generation of real energy solutions — for Maryland and for the world.”

EnerTech invests in early to growth-stage companies that offer products or services that make energy production and consumption more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. The firm has managed about $500 million since its founding in 1996. Its current fund, in which InvestMaryland is a participant, is approximately $120 million. EnerTech’s portfolio ranges from Tangent Energy Solutions, a company that makes industrial sites more energy efficient, to n-Dimension Solutions, a cybersecurity firm focused on critical infrastructure.

FMP invests in the healthcare technology sector, focusing on transformational technologies and services that enable value-based healthcare and leverage wireless, data and analytics technologies. Its portfolio includes a diverse set of companies specializing in healthcare informatics, medical device development and innovative diagnostic technologies. FMP is still in its fundraising phase and could not comment on its new fund.

InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment in history by the State. Last year, $84 million was raised for the program through an online auction of tax credits. Of that funding, two-thirds will be managed by private venture firms like EnerTech and FMP. So far, $48 million has been committed to seven firms. The remaining third is being invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).

The MVF was seeded with $25 million and over its 17-year existence invested in hundreds of start-up and early stage technology and life sciences companies, generating a $67 million return, 2000 jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. Returns from MVF investments are reinvested in the program.

BALTIMORE, MD (September 5, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today via video kicked off the 2nd annual InvestMaryland Challenge, a national business competition that supports Maryland startups and strengthens a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship that has been ranked #1 in the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for two years in a row. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), through the Maryland Venture Fund and the BioMaryland Center, will award $400,000 in top prizes spread across four categories — Life Sciences, IT, General Industry and a new Cybersecurity category — as well as secondary prizes and awards from partners and sponsors. DBED is continuing its partnership with Inc. magazine to promote the Challenge to a national audience of entrepreneurs and small business owners. The application period opens immediately and will close December 6 and applications are available here.

“The future of Maryland’s economy is the entrepreneurs, innovators, startup founders and small business owners all across our State. The InvestMaryland Challenge is a central piece of our strategy to provide the critical resources to help these men and women succeed,” said Governor O’Malley. “The winners in the New Economy will be those states and countries that make the smart investments in the people, technologies and companies that will lead their economies for decades to come. The InvestMaryland Challenge is one way we are doing just that, while showing entrepreneurs everywhere that Maryland is the best place to start and grow their businesses.”

“We are excited to bring back the InvestMaryland Challenge for a second year, build on the success of the first competition and continue our efforts to reach and support Maryland’s diverse and growing community of innovators,” said DBED Secretary Dominick E. Murray. “The Challenge is an opportunity for us to connect in a unique and impactful way to Maryland companies on the cutting edge of life sciences, social media, cybersecurity, big data, green energy and the other high-tech fields at the forefront of Maryland’s Innovation Economy. We look forward to meeting an exciting new crop of entrepreneurs and helping them strengthen and grow their businesses.”

“We at Inc. have been watching innovation and fast-growing private companies blossom in Maryland for more than 30 years,” said Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “Like our partners in the InvestMaryland Challenge, we like nothing more in life than to help our favorite people—entrepreneurs—succeed.”

The benefits of the Challenge stretch far beyond the cash prizes and other awards that companies will receive. Contestants will have their companies evaluated by teams of expert judges comprised of successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, high-tech and scientific researchers, top-level executives and others who work with startups. Connections forged with judges and fellow contestants can pave the way for partnerships, new customer relationships and further investment.

For example, SocialToaster, a Baltimore company that helps organizations amplify their social media messages by deputizing their most ardent followers, landed a $200,000 venture capital investment from DBED’s Maryland Venture Fund after being named one of the three finalists in the IT category in the first InvestMaryland Challenge. The company has also partnered with DBED to help promote the second Challenge. North East-based i-Lighting, a producer of home lighting systems, has moved into a larger facility, expanded its manufacturing operation and added staff since it won the General category in the first InvestMaryland Challenge in April. The company has also signed on to provide a $5,000 prize and help judge the second Challenge.

“Winning the InvestMaryland Challenge has been a huge advantage to i-Lighting. The influx of cash that we needed to expand our business and grow it in so many categories has been huge,” said Scott Holland, i-Lighting’s founder, president and CEO. “The funding was the end result, but it would be very difficult to put a value on the exposure we have received from outside sources after winning the InvestMaryland Challenge. It was almost brand recognition all by itself.”

The inaugural Challenge awarded more than $425,000 in cash prizes and services and drew 259 contestants from 10 states and Washington D.C., with companies applying from as far away as California, Georgia and Massachusetts. As required last year, out-of-state companies are eligible to apply in the General Category but would have to establish an office in Maryland and spend a majority of the funding here if they claim the top prize. The Life Sciences, IT and Cybersecurity categories are open only to Maryland companies. Every category is limited to companies with fewer than 25 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. After businesses turn in their entries, including a business plan, by Dec. 6, they will be evaluated in January by panels of judges. The top 10 companies in each category will move on to face-to-face interviews with judging panels in March. Winners of each category and the special awards and prizes will be announced at the InvestMaryland Challenge Finale in April.


Staq, Baltimore

Staq is a Baltimore-based advertising management system.

Staq, an InvestMaryland Challenge finalist and incubator-grown startup, recently raised $1 million in seed funding from The Hive, a California-based investment firm, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.

Staq was founded in 2012 and developed at the Betamore incubator by CEO and co-founder James Curran.

In a recent question and answer with MDBIZ News, Curran compared his product to, except instead of aggregating all of a user’s bank account and loan information, Staq aggregates all of a company’s advertising accounts.

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InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital fund in Maryland history.

The Maryland Venture Fund is adding a new team member to assist in sourcing and evaluating equity investments in Maryland life sciences companies. Alastair Mackay, a cell biologist by training, has been named the Senior Life Sciences Principal, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development announced Thursday.

“Working at Johns Hopkins and then at Osiris Therapeutics, I learned first-hand of the tremendous practical impacts of scientific discoveries,” Mackay said in a statement. “I hope to spot early stage Maryland companies that combine promising technology with clear, achievable plans for bringing their innovations to market.”

Within the InvestMaryland program, Mackay will focus on channeling funding toward the state’s most innovative and promising life sciences companies. His extensive industry experience stretches from the lab to the board room.

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GrayBug won the $100,000 grand prize in the life sciences category of the InvestMaryland Challenge.

Entrepreneurs often follow a rough road to success, but on Monday evening, state officials and business sponsors proved there is help along the way.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge culminated with the announcement of the three $100,000 grand prize-winning companies and presentations of in-kind awards worth a combined value of over $125,000. Participating companies represented some of the most innovative early-stage operations from Maryland and beyond.

Find a full list of winners here.

Governor Martin O’Malley, who welcomed grand prize winners to the stage inside the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Brown Center, said he identified with the start-up spirit of contestants.

“I’m an entrepreneur trapped in a public servant’s body. I believe in doing the things that work. I don’t have time for ideology. I don’t like bureaucracy. I’m not into process and I’m not into hierarchy. I’m into doing things that work, less of the things that don’t and putting together common platforms that allow people to come together and collaborate and innovate,” O’Malley said.

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InvestMaryland Challenge

From over 250 applicants, judges have chosen the final winners of the first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development.

Representing some of the most innovative early-stage companies from Maryland and beyond are the three $100,000 grand prize winners in each competition category.

InvestMaryland Challenge sponsors have also provided thousands of dollars in grants and business services to several participating companies.

Find descriptions of each special award below:

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