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Emerging Technologies : Development News

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Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland to build research and science center in East Baltimore

The state's two major research institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park , are partnering to build a research and science center in East Baltimore opening September 2014. The state is spending $27 million and Hopkins is contributing $3 million toward the $30 million public/private venture whose goal is to make Maryland’s universities and private industry more competitive in the sciences.

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will consist of multiple buildings on land leased from Hopkins on its 350-acre Bayview Medical campus, at 4940 Eastern Ave. Expected to break ground in November, the center will be set off from other buildings and have its own separate entrance. The universities will finish site design this month and then bid the project to vendors. 
 
While the facility is unique in Maryland, other states, notably Massachusetts and New York, have launched similar data centers. Hopkins' vice provost of research Scott Zeger says the facility will allow the two universities to compete in scientific fields. Last year, faculty and administrators at Johns Hopkins and UMCP formed a scientific governing group to oversee the facility. 
  
“We are building a world-class facility,” he says, that will spur public/private partnerships in scientific research and hopefully create spinoff companies. 

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will be used for fields whose solutions require “extreme computation,” says Zeger. These include big data, cybersecurity, language processing, genomics and molecular chemistry.
 
The center will consist of a small administrative building for the four to five people who will operate the facility and smaller buildings to hold the computing and storage equipment. The center will initially consist of one building to hold equipment but there is room on the site for up to five such structures. 
 
Zeger says the construction of subsequent buildings depends on state funding, federal grants and partnerships with other universities in the region and private industry. The facility's operating cost is put at $3 million to $5 million per year, and Zeger expects partnerships and other funding to defray the cost.
 
According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, money for the project has been designated in the capital budgets for FY 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Source: Scott Zeger, Johns Hopkins University
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
  
 
 

 
 

Dishcrawl eyes Hampden, Fells Point and Baltimore County for its next culinary adventure

Maybe you've tried bar-hopping, but what about restaurant-hopping? Dishcrawl, which launches in Baltimore this month, dubs itself as a “gastronomic adventure” and encourages guests to try a variety of foods in selected neighborhoods.

Baltimore’s first Dishcrawl will be held in Canton April 17, taking diners to four “secret” restaurants. Founder Tracy Lee says the company will expand the culinary social experience to Fells Point, Federal Hill, Charles Village and Hampden, though no events have been scheduled yet. If Baltimore City crawls are successful, Lee says she will consider expanding Dishcrawl to Baltimore County.  

Lee launched Dishcrawl in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 as a way to share her favorite restaurants. Though it's now up and running in New York, Montreal, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., it wasn’t an instant success.

“In the beginning, it was really hard to figure out how to get the word out,” Lee says. “I would spend 20 hours promoting to get 20 people to an event.”

Lee turned to social media to help promote the crawls. She and her team, which includes ambassadors in each city, use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets to spread the word.

“I love Baltimore and the diverse food scene,” Lee says. “The community and coming together as a group of foodies is what makes Dishcrawl successful in cities.”

Curious as to which Canton restaurants will be included in the inaugural crawl? Keep an eye on Twitter, where the team will drop hints at @dishcrawlbal. Ticket holders will receive an email with the meeting location 48 hours prior to the crawl.   

The first three restaurants will feature one dish each and the the fourth will serve dessert. Chefs and restaurateurs will share stories, as well. Tickets cost $45, excluding alcohol.


Writer: Renee Libby Beck
Source: Tracy Lee, Dishcrawl 

Interior Design Firm Scouting for Office Space

A three-year-old interior design firm whose clients include Millennial Media and Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. is scouting for office space in Baltimore City and adding to its staff.

Kelly Ennis, founding principal of the Verve Partnership, says she is looking at Clipper Mill and other historic properties in the area with the hope of leasing a 2,000-square-foot office in January. “We’re looking for an office that reflects our brand — less formal but creative and professional,” says Ennis, who has been working out of her Hampden home. Ennis has hired Doug Kaufman of AGM Commercial Real Estate Advisors LLC as her broker. 

The six-person firm will soon add another designer and a project architect and grow to about 20 employees over the next three years. Ennis says she eventually would like to expand to other smaller cities, such as Denver and Pittsburgh.  

A Pennsylvania native, Ennis moved to Baltimore in the 1980s to get her BFA in interior architecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She moved to Los Angeles for eight years, where she worked for HOK, the largest US-based architectural engineering firm. Locally, Ennis has worked for Gensler.

Ennis wanted to start her own firm because she wanted to design offices where the company’s brand is incorporated in its interior design. For instance, Verve blended a casual and corporate environment on behalf of Millennial Media, designing a “park like” area for flexible meeting space and a “jam room” for the staff musicians.

OmniTI, an IT services firm with offices in Fulton and New York City, wanted a space that fostered creativity. Verve incorporated graffiti and musical instruments in the office design. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kelly Ennis, Verve Partnership 

Higher-Ed Startup StraighterLine Moving Out of ETC

StraighterLine, a Baltimore startup that recently got $10 million in venture funding, will soon move out of its incubator into a place of its own.

Seeking to accommodate its expanding staff, the company plans to relocate as early as Aug. 1 to a new, 6,000-square-foot office, tripling its space, says Marketing Manager, Steven Pope.
 
Its current space in The Johns Hopkins University Eastern Campus at 1101 E. 33rd St. in Waverly is 1,900 square feet and part of the Emerging Technology Center.
 
The company is still firming up a location, but the new space will be "five to 10 minutes away" from its present office, Pope says. 
 
"(We are) trying to capitalize on the market's readiness for a change in the education industry. We're trying to become the Amazon of online education. That's obviously a big goal, but we're one step closer to achieving it this year because of our expansions," Pope says.
 
The relocation is being supported by a $10 million investment to the company made in part by FirstMark Capital, a New York venture capital firm. CityLight Capital and Chrysalis Ventures also contributed to the investment.
 
Since the beginning of the year, the company has grown from 11 employees to its current staff of 22. It plans to grow to 30 employees in the next few months, Pope says.
 
The company is currently hiring subject matter experts and marketing and  software development staff.
 
StraighterLine provides entry-level, online college courses for credit in a variety of subjects. They follow a self-paced, independent study approach to online learning. Students can transfer courses taken at StraighterLine to a variety of partner colleges that offer degrees.
 
Pope says that with students facing mounting college debt, the company aims to offer low-cost and low-risk college credit options.
 
CEO Burck Smith founded the company in 2009 after launching Smarthinking, an online tutoring company.
 
 
Source: Steven Pope, marketing manager.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, alexandra@bmoremedia.com
 

Maryland Biotech Development Center Awarding $200K in Grants

The Maryland Biotechnology Development Center is accepting applications at their website for grant awards of up to $200,000 through Feb. 15th. These awards are available in two categories, biotechnology commercialization and translational research.

Biotechnology commercialization is focused on supporting projects that are in late-stage development and are poised to enter the market and begin generating revenue within three years. The translational research category is designed to help start ups that are bridging the gap between research institutions and private companies in Maryland, with the goal of taking promising research down a commercial path.

This is the third year for these awards, which have provided nearly $3.1 million in funding to 13 life sciences companies and three university research projects in Maryland.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Maryland Biotechnology Development Center

"Green" rehabbed homes give you options and a good conscience

What's cooler than green? Green and customized.

East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI) has put a dozen "green" rehab homes on the market that will be designed in myriad ways by the new owner at the point of sale. The homes, located on E. Chase and McDonough Streets on EBDI's 80-acre development site, are effectively shells of existing homes that have been thoroughly stabilized (with "green" lumber, of course) and are a blank slate ready to be built to suit the homeowner's specifications within about three months.

Stroll through the model home at 1714 E. Chase Street and you'll feel like a kid in a candy shop when presented with the available amenities. Among the possible features are granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, skylights, recessed lighting, whirlpools, hardwood floors, and carpet.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the homes is that the load-bearing walls are all external, so buyers can choose where to put interior walls. That means the homes can have as many or as few rooms as the owner would like. This design flexibility can also help buyers keep the price down, as simpler floor plans will be less expensive. The 12 homes are as small as 1,000 square feet and as large as 2,200 square feet, and can range in price from the high $100Ks to the mid $200Ks.

"It's difficult to use conventional standards to describe these homes," says Dennis Miller, EBDI vice president for real estate development. "From the outside you think these are wonderful, beautiful Federal-style homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but when you walk inside you find an urban dwelling unit that has amenities of any new house built today. It's a great blend of the old and the new."

The "green" components are also extensive. The homes -- which use formaldehyde-free building materials and VOC-free paints, sealants and adhesives -- incorporate windows, appliances, lighting fixtures and roofing materials that meet Energy-Star rated home standards. They also feature tankless water heaters, foam or cellulose insulation, and state-of-the-art caulking practices around windows, doors and penetrations. Buyers can upgrade to solar thermal water heating system and a solar electrical system.

"What we're offering is the opportunity to live in the city, closer to your place of employment and places of entertainment, and have a home that's cheaper to maintain with the amenities and qualities you're accustomed to enjoying in the suburbs and other areas," says Miller. Moreover, he says, EBDI's long-term plans to invest in the surrounding neighborhood are a virtual guarantee that the homes won't lose value.

More information on EBDI's green rehabs is available from sales manager Patrice Fulcott at (410) 234-0660 x 238

Source: Dennis Miller, EBDI
Writer: Lucy Ament
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