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SmartLogic Solutions scouting Fells, Canton and Federal Hill for new home

SmartLogic Solutions LLC is looking for a new home to accommodate its growing staff as the web and mobile application developer expects to double revenue by next year.

Currently located in the Emerging Technology Center at Canton, the eight-year-old web and mobile application developer intends to leave the incubator within the next six months for another location in the city. The ETC is moving to Highlandtown in the fall
 
President Yair Flicker has been scouting commercial buildings in Canton, Federal Hill and Fells Point for a 2,000-square-foot office.  “We need to find something quickly,” he says.
 
SmartLogic develops software for web and mobile products like iPhone and Android applications and brings in about $1.5 million in annual revenue. In one year, from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, revenue grew 34 percent, according to Flicker.

“If we’re not at $3 to $4 million in revenue by the end of 2014, I’d be disappointed.”
 
To that end, he has instituted several changes. SmartLogic recently hired a marketing director and a development director. The company is also hiring four more employees this year, primarily developers and programmers, to add to its staff of 11.
 
A new website is in the works, with a focus on attracting  small- and medium-sized businesses. Clients include Woofound and McDonogh School. During the course of a year, the company works on 12 to 15 projects.
 
Founded in 2005, the privately financed company moved into the incubator, Emerging Technology Center at Johns Hopkins Eastern in 2006. In 2011, it relocated to the Emerging Technology Center at Canton.
 
Source: Yair Flicker, SmartLogic Solutions LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Johns Hopkins med students' startup launches new product

Ahead Research, a life sciences startup founded by two Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students, is launching its second product, Medassure, this year.

Craig Monsen and David Do launched the health information company in Fells Point in 2012 along with its first product, Symcat. 

Symcat allows users access to medical information and to assess the state of their health. Available on the web or as an application on a mobile device, the program asks users to enter their medical symptoms, then provides information from the federal Centers for Disease Control's database on the most likely diagnosis. Symcat is available as a free download on any smart phone, both iPhones and Android devices.

Medassure takes Symcat a step futher by providing information on medications to take for the diagnosis and analyzing possible interactions with the users' other medications. The founders say they plan to merge the two products together and market under the single name of Symcat.

Tolu Babalola, the company's head of growth, says Ahead Research launched Symcat with little fanfare but plans to market it aggressively this year. “We did some marketing and advertising of Symcat but this year we are spending money on a marketing campaign,” he says. 
 
Monsen and Do, now in their final year at Johns Hopkins medical school, developed Ahead Research in a health technology incubator, Blueprint Health. The company's funding comes from a $30,000 award from the Cigna Health Innovation Challenge and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for $100,000.

In December, Ahead Research signed a memorandum of understanding with nonprofit BioHealth Innovation to accelerate the commercialization of Symcat. With offices in Rockville and Baltimore, BioHealth may launch a healthcare accelerator this year. 
 
Ahead Research has a full-time staff of three. The company expects to hire an undetermined number of software engineers in the next 12 to 18 months. It is also starting an internship program for college undergraduates in the local area.
 
Source: Tolu Babalola, Ahead Research
Writer: Barbara Pash








Md. Firm Signs $1M Contract With Homeland Security

The US Department of Homeland Security last month gave Robotic Research LLC the go-ahead to develop the next-generation robot for emergency medical personnel.

The engineering firm signed a two-year, $1 million contract to design and build a robot that can sense its environment and function with minimal operator control. Headquartered in Gaithersburg with a maritime research facility in Baltimore City, Robotics Research designs software and systems for robots. 
 
The current contract is phase two of the homeland security department’s Small Business Innovation Research Program for the Maryland company’s Sensor-Smart Affordable Robotic Platform. In phase one, the company received $100,000 for a prototype. Upon completion of the current contract, the Robotic Research may commercialize the product, President Alberto Lacaze says. 
 
The Sensor-Smart program is a family of small, mobile robotic platforms with three-dimensional adapted components for specialized missions. The 3-D components allow the robot to adapt to the different conditions an emergency medical technician would encounter. For example, different sensors can be used to determine toxins in the air or to start a video system for rescue operations.
 
“We are expanding the functionality of the robot with sensors, tailored for particular applications,” Lacaze says. “It’s almost like the robot can modify itself to different situations.”
 
Robotic Research also manufactures components of robots, either prototypes or final products that are put into other robotic devices. Its customers are primarily the US military and homeland security department.
 
Among its products are a control system for the recovery of unmanned boats, in collaboration with General Dynamics Robotic Systems and sponsored by the US Naval Sea Systems Command; and an indoor mapping and visualization robot for Global Positioning System-denied terrain and buildings, sponsored by the US Army.
 
It's conducting an ongoing project for the US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the company’s research facility, located on two boats at the Baltimore marina at Fells Point.
 
Founded in 2002, the privately owned Robotic Research employs 25. It has ongoing paid internships for college students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
 
Source: Alberto Lacaze, Robotic Research LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Historic Baltimore Tour Gets a Following

Baltimore Heritage, a historic preservation nonprofit, says several hundred people have downloaded its new app for touring historic neighborhoods of Baltimore.

Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritages' field officer, says that he hopes the growth continues as it adds more neighborhoods and features. These include the neighborhoods of Mount Vernon and Franklin Square, neighborhood churches and other sacred landmarks. 

“The idea is to explore historic neighborhoods in a fun and informative way,” Pousson says.

The free app, which can be used on Android devices and iPhones, is available on its newly redesigned webiste or from the app store. 

The app is built on an open source platform developed by Cleveland State University that has already been used to create similar apps in Cleveland, St. Paul, New Orleans and Miami. Baltimore Heritage is using material it already had researched along with new material that was created for the app by students at University of Maryland Baltimore County.
 
“We don’t intend to commercialize it. That’s not our mission,” Pousson says. Baltimore Heritage works in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
 
The app has historical photographs, short essays and oral histories about different Baltimore City places. Users can select from different options for self-guided tours of neighborhoods like Station North Arts and Entertainment District or Bolton Hill, or for thematic tours, such as a War of 1812 tour.
 
 
Source: Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage
Writer: Barbara Pash

Ingenuity Project Encourages City Students' Scientific Achievements

Two Baltimore City public high school students are representing Charm City at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

The students, both grand prize winners in the Baltimore Science Fair, are enrolled in a little-known nonprofit, the Ingenuity Project. The project spends $1 million a year to encourage middle and high school students in Baltimore City public schools to excel in science.

"We're one of the best-kept secrets in the city," says Karen Footner, Ingenuity's spokesperson.
 
Footner, an educational consultant, says the project dates to 1993 when educators and advocates of the city school system asked why Baltimore had never had a winner in the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and best known youth science competition.
 
Acceptance into the project is competitive, based on school grades and multiple tests. Students apply in 5th and 8th grades. The project is held at three middle schools (Roland Park, Hamilton and Mount Royal) and one high school (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute).  If accepted into the project, students have to request to attend those schools.
 
“The money is spent mainly for teachers for accelerated math and science classes,” says Footner, noting that 80 percent of the funding comes from the Abell Foundation and Baltimore City Public Schools.
 
There are currently 486 students in the program, split evenly boys and girls and of whom half are African-Americans.
 
Since 2005, seven Ingenuity students have been semifinalists, and three have been among the top ten winners nationally in the Intel Science Talent Search. “For Baltimore City kids, that’s extraordinary,” Footner says.
 
The Ingenuity Project will host a fundraiser April 17 at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum, featuring  science writer Flora Lichtman.
 
Source: Karen Footner, educational consultant
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Fells Point Farmer's Market Offers Opportunity

The newly opened Fells Point Farmer's Market offers the neighborhood fresh opportunities for growth. Merchants offering meat, herbs, produce, baked goods and more are setting up shop in the square on Saturdays, providing the neighborhood with both new food choices and a gathering spot.

 

Opened under the auspices of Fells Point Main Street, the market has been an immediate success.  Vendors are being added to the mix, with five new vendors expected to be added in the next few weeks.

For some vendors, this market provides the opportunity to start their businesses and explore the possibility of pursuing their passions as a profitable enterprise. Baker Teresa Pessaro had been creating her vegan treats for friends and clients for some time before she decided to take a shot at expanding her enterprise Goody Goody Gumdrops with a stall at the market.

"There's been a good, positive response. There's so many people in the neighborhood, and with the water taxi and tourists, you meet a lot of different people. I've gotten good feedback." says Teresa Pessaro.

The market is focused on both building a better community in Fells Point and providing opportunities for residents to get fresh food. Fells Point Main Street is looking to expand the market's offerings, and find ways to give back to the neighborhood.

"We're all about supporting the neighborhood, getting people to shop local and stay local. What a better way than to make it so that people can wake up, grab a head of lettuce or something from the market and stay in the neighborhood." says Fell's Point Main Street volunteer Nathalie Mageria.

The market will run every Saturday until November 12. Fells Point Main Street is accepting applications for new vendors, and recruiting volunteers.

Author: Amy McNeal

Sources: Nathalie Mageria, Fells Point Main Street; Teresa Pessaro, Goody Goody Gumdrops

 


Baltimore's Inner Harbor Gears Up for Summer Tourism

Tourism is heating up for the summer in Baltimore. As the city enters a summer packed with headline-making events like the Grand Prix and Baltimore Pride, the hospitality sector is looking forward to a busy and profitable season. 


"Tourism is lifting itself, and doing very well," says Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. 

At the Inner Harbor, increased tourism spending is providing opportunities for growth. The Rusty Scupper, a staple of the Inner Harbor tourist trade, expects revenues to increase 25% this year. The National Aquarium and The Maryland Science Center are also experiencing increases in visitor traffic and revenue. Baltimore's popular free bus service, The Charm City Circulator is experiencing increased ridership, and expects to reach 2 million riders this year. 

Visit Baltimore has taken the expected increase in tourism seriously. Through its Certified Tourism Ambassador program, Visit Baltimore aims to have hundreds of specially trained personnel around the city to provide welcoming help to visitors. The program will train hospitality industry workers, police officers, cab drivers and workers in other tourism related industries to help tourists navigate the city and answer questions about history, venues and landmarks. 

"We're training a knowledgeable force, so that as a guest you'll run into someone who is certified, has taken a class and passed an exam," adds Noonan. 

Hotel occupancy is increasing, fueled by both a rebounding travel market and a healthy convention business downtown. Baltimore's hoteliers are adding approximately 2,500 new rooms to handle the increased demand. The city's hospitality profile will increase with the addition of the new Four Seasons Hotel in 2012.

Author: Amy McNeal

Source: Tom Noonan, Visit Baltimore


Baltimore's vital signs looking good says report

A new statistical analysis of Baltimore shows that the city has made important improvements in areas central to the city's improvement, including crime, housing, and education prior to the recession. Other social conditions, such as the number of teen births and the number of children with elevated levels of blood lead, have also improved according to the latest "Vital Signs" report by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute. However, the report shows that while there have been significant improvements in a variety of economic and social indicators in Baltimore, not all neighborhoods within the city have benefited equally.

Available on the BNIA-JFI's new website, analyzes data from nearly 80 indicators provided at the Community Statistical Area level. CSAs, created by the Baltimore City Department of Planning, are clusters of neighborhoods organized around Census Tract boundaries, which are consistent statistical boundaries. Neighborhood borders don't always fall neatly into CSAs, but CSAs represent conditions occurring within the particular neighborhoods that comprise a CSA.

"This latest edition of 'Vital Signs' will help us access how our neighborhoods are doing and what we can do to help improve outcomes," says Janice Hamilton Outtz, senior associate for Civic Site and Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "I am excited about the new report."

The 8th edition of "Vital Signs reveals the following important trends currently impacting the city:

  • The city's population declined by 3 percent, from 651,154 in 2000, to 631,815 in 2008. While a handful of neighborhoods lost population, several more, including downtown (22 percent), Loch Raven (8.4 percent) and Northwood (9.9 percent), experienced a growth in population.
  • Median sales prices for homes in the city increased by well over 100 percent in the past eight years, although the pace of that increase has slowed considerably since the start of the recession.
  • Both adult and juvenile crime has decreased in Baltimore City. In particular, Baltimore City's Part 1 crime rate has declined from 106.0 incidents per 1,000 people in 2000 to 78.3 incidents per 1,000 per people in 2008.
  • The number of residential properties receiving rehabilitation investment is climbing, and may be continuing as the recession lingers and more homeowners choose to stay in their current home.
  • Baltimore's high school completion rate is on the rise, while its rate of truancy in elementary, middle school and high school (including students who drop out of high school) is in decline.
  • The teen birth rate dropped from 83.3 teens out of 1,000 in 2000 to 66.1 teens per 1,000 in 2008a decline of 17.2 percent.

Other measurements, such as the larger number of Baltimore residents visiting local emergency rooms for non-emergency diagnoses and treatment, expose a city that continues to be constrained by larger trends such as rising health care costs and a lack of adequate medical insurance.

"While Baltimore City has made significant improvements in areas such as crime and education, we appear to be hampered by many of the same things that have struck other urban areas in this recession," says Matthew Kachura, program manager for BNIA-JFI at UB. "But we also are seeing some resilience, such as the increase in home prices, median household income, and an impressive number of small businesses based in well-established city neighborhoods like Edmonson Village and Greenmount East, and by the growing number of city residents who claim at least some higher education in their backgrounds."

BNIA-JFI began in 1998 as a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In 2006, BNIA joined with the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute in an expansion of its capabilities. BNIA-JFI has strengthened the "Vital Signs" report and provided additional services and resources for those who seek data, information, and analysis about the city.

BNIA-JFI's latest product is a new Web site, www.bniajfi.org, which provides a wide variety of data, maps, and information for the City of Baltimore and its neighborhoods. Anyone interested in how Baltimore measures up can find easy-to-use statistical analyses, maps, reports and links relevant to the city.

This information is reflected in the latest "Vital Signs" report. For example, Edmonson Village reports the city's highest percentage of successful small businesses (69.2 percent), while a total of 50.9 percent of all city residents reported some type of college attendance as of 2008.

"These trends of educational attainment, lower crime and rising housing prices may not lead to a total revitalization for the city," Kachura said, "but show that many neighborhoods are improving and these improvements paint both a better and a realistic picture of Baltimore. The larger question is whether these trends can be maintained and translated into long-term improvements for Baltimore and its neighborhoods. For the most part, though, they are good news for the city."

Source: Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins


Champions Biotechnology advancing therapeutic oncology tech

Champions Biotechnology, a developer of advanced preclinical platforms and tumor specific data designed to enhance and accelerate the
value of oncology drugs, will deploy its Biomerk Tumorgraft platform to guide development of new oncology therapeutics.

The platform enables identification of the most promising development path possible cancer therapies in terms of indication, drug combination, and target patient population. The platform also has the potential to identify gene pathways of response and resistance as well as prognostic molecular biomarkers.

"We are excited to continue the growth of our impressive client base and begin working with one of the most respected global leaders in the discovery and development of novel therapies," says Doug Burkett, Ph.D., President of Champions Biotechnology, Inc.

"Studies suggest that evaluation of oncology compounds through our Biomerk Tumorgraft platform will lead to more successful and efficient clinical development. The value-added by an optimally targeted, more efficient clinical path can result in cost savings, improved clinical and commercial success and significantly more years of patent life following commercialization," he adds.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Doug Burkett, Champions Biotechnology, Inc.


e-Documents for docs adds up to success

Salar Inc., an electronic documentation firm located in Fells Point, is growing. The company recently added the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the George Washington University Hospital to its roster of clients.

Salar's bread and butter is the healthcare industry. Founded in 1999, the company takes traditional paper-based physicians notes and puts them into an electronic format, which boosts productivity and enhances hospital revenues.

Both the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the George Washington University Hospital have contracted with Salar to bring clinicians at both hospitals TeamNotes, which enables physicians to create medical forms, including daily notes, admission notes and discharge notes electronically on desktops, laptops, and tablet PCs.

"Our ultimate goal is to maximize the amount of time physicians spend interacting with and treating patients and minimize the time occupied with completing paperwork and correcting billing errors," says Salar president Todd Johnson.

President Barack Obama has made the shift to electronic medical records a priority that he would like to see accomplished within the next five years. With less than 10 percent of the 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. and just under 20 percent of the 800,000 doctors currently using computerized records, there is plenty of potential for growth for Salar.

Johns Hopkins Hospital, UMass Memorial Health Care and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center also use Salar's technology.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Todd Johnson, president, Salar, Inc.
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