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Maryland Biotech Development Center Awarding Up to $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.

Source: Maryland Biotechnology Development Center
Writer: Amy McNeal

Study Ranks Maryland as Second Most Charitable State

In the mood to give to your local soup kitchen this holiday season? Well you’re not alone -- at least not in the Free State.

24/7 Wall St. ranks Maryland as the second most charitable state, behind only Utah.

It analyzed IRS data compiled by the Urban Land Institute and ranked the states according to charitable donation per taxpayer. Marylanders gave $1,661 to charities, the study found. More than 40 percent of Maryland residents donate to charity.

The average income per taxpayer was $66,614 in 2009, making it the fourth highest in the country. The study found that, in general, the wealthier states gave more and the poorer states gave less.

Utah residents gave $2,388 per taxpayer, with an average income of $52,021. That puts it at No. 21 for income.

Maine ranked the least charitable, with residents giving an average of $612. It is the 10th lowest in income, pulling in $46,683 per taxpayer.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: 24/7 Wall St.

Main Streets' Microloan Program Goes to Washington

A group of Baltimore Main Streets board members and merchants attended a White House Business Leaders Briefing last month to showcase the Federal Hill microloan program at a small business forum.

Federal Hill Main Street is launching this because of a lack of access to capital for small businesses in our community. I think nonprofits are the future for lending to small businesses - banks certainly aren't doing it,” says Jane Seebold, Executive Director of Federal Hill Main Street.

The program offers small, short-term loans – from $500 to $2500 – to businesses in Federal Hill for low interest rates. The loans can be used by the businesses for specialized tasks like technology upgrades or seasonal inventory purchases. The loan board has secured an insurer after a lengthy struggle.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Jane Seebold, Federal Hill Main Street

Oculis Labs Joins UMBC Incubator

Hunt Valley’s Oculis Labs has opened a satellite branch at the Northrup Grumman Cync Program, an incubator at bwtech@UMBC.

“Oculis wanted the opportunity to work more closely with Northrop Grumman on various projects and the Cync partnership gives us regular contact,” says Oculis Labs' CEO Bill Anderson. “We also expect to benefit from advice from the program staff, and from connections we can make through Northrop contacts.” 

Access to UMBC’s facilities and the opportunity to find and hire students to work at Oculis made the move attractive, Anderson says.

The Cync program is designed to provide support, evaluation and connection opportunities for companies that are developing new technology and cyber security tools.

Oculis Labs is best known for its Chameleon and PrivateEye data privacy software. Both applications are designed to use user recognition technology to protect sensitive data from “visual eavesdropping.”

Oculis Labs new PrivateEye Enterprise product is used in government, healthcare, and financial enterprises. It recently partnered with Panasonic to bundle PrivateEye with its Toughbook laptops. Anderson says he expects to see more deals like that over the next year.

Source: Oculis Labs’ Bill Anderson
Writer: Amy McNeal

TEDCO Awards $500,000 in Grants

The Maryland Technology Development Corp. has awarded a dozen Maryland researchers nearly $500,000 in grants to further their work in technology development. These grants were made through two of TEDCO's programs, the University Technology Development Fund and TechStart.

Technology researchers from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Salisbury University and Towson University each received up to $50,000 in technology development funding. Teams from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University each received up to $15,000 in funding from the TechStart program. 

The technology development aims to help researchers develop and assess the commercial viability of new inventions, test prototypes and perfect research designs. Since the inception of the UTDF program, 95 projects have been completed and 43 have been licensed or optioned to private companies. The projects have launched 29 Maryland start-ups.

The TechStart program provides funding to university and federal lab-based teams that include an inventor who can evaluate the feasibility of a start-up, an experienced entrepreneur to provide business guidance and a technology transfer manager. TechStart was started in 2007 and has completed 29 projects resulting in 20 new tech start-ups.

Five new start-ups have been launched as a result of this round of funding awards. These new companies include BOSS Medical, CervoCheck, Clear Guide Medical, Lifelong Technologies and NexImmune.

Source: TEDCO
Writer: Amy McNeal

Maryland Live Casino to Open Recruitment Center

Maryland Live Casino will open a new recruitment center on-site mid-January.

Near Arundel Mills, the casino developed by Cordish Co. will hire 1,500 workers. The recruitment center will feature computers to allow job seekers to access the company's applications. Maryland Live recruiters will be on hand to answer questions.

The recruiting site currently features openings for several management positions. Listings for other positions in the new complex will be posted in the coming months. The company expects to offer positions in all areas of operations and all shifts. Casino positions will be available as well as positions in food and beverage, environmental services, security, retail, marketing, IT and finance. Interested job seekers are encouraged to register at the company's website now to speed up the applications process as more positions become available.

Opening in the summer, the complex will feature 4,750 slot machines and electronic table games, restaurants, retail stores and a live entertainment venue.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Carmen Gonzales, Maryland Live

Small Business Saturday Promotes Local Shopping

Did you remember Small Business Saturday? Now in its second year, the program sponsored by American Express aims to draw attention to local businesses for post-Thanksgiving shopping.

“I did patronize a couple local businesses in my neighborhood Saturday for that reason, but truth be told, I tend to shop local for everything I can, including Christmas presents," says Zoe Saint-Paul, local blogger and founder of SlowMama.com

Neighborhood retailers were offered an advertising boost this year featuring politicians like U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin encouraging Marylanders to “Shop Small” this holiday season. Cardin, a Democrat who represents Maryland, recently co-sponsored a bill to give Small Business Saturday an official designation and date in 2011.

Alexa Webb, owner of Alexa Webb Artisan Jewelry in Federal Hill, says sales from Small Business Saturday increased 480 percent this year compared with last year. Webb credits the advertising campaign in part.

According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 212 million shoppers spent $45 billion on consumer purchases during Thanksgiving weekend last year. Figures are not yet available for this year.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: National Retail Federation; Alexa Webb, Alexa Webb Artisan Jewelry; Zoe Saint-Paul, SlowMama.com; the Office of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Traffic Group to Develop New Rapid Transit System

The Traffic Group, a White Marsh transportation services and traffic engineering company, has been chosen by Montgomery County to develop a plan for a new rapid transit system.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the proposed new system would consist of 24 routes. The system would include dedicated lanes for rapid transit vehicles and vehicle stations that are wide, weather-protected and equipped with real-time data and maps.

The rapid transit system being considered for Montgomery County is an ambitious attempt to address the problems of traffic and congestion endemic in the area. If adopted as proposed, the rapid transit system would be the one of the largest of its kind in the US.

“We are thrilled to develop a plan for Montgomery County focused on a new rapid transit system,” Traffic Group President Wes Guckert says. “Unfortunately our region boasts the worst traffic in our country, which delays the average commuter 74 hours per year. When constructed, this new system would give back both time and money to commuters.”

The Traffic Group has offices in Arkansas, New York and Texas.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Wes Guckert, The Traffic Group

Credit Union Grows in November

In the wake of consumer frustration with corporate fees, one local credit union is experiencing a period of growth. SECU, Maryland's largest financial cooperative, saw new checking accounts and new members increase by about two-thirds compared with last year.

“With the holidays, we typically see account openings flatten in November and December, but with negative sentiment toward the big banks continuing, we are experiencing a reversal of that trend this year," says SECU President and CEO Rod Staatz.

SECU is ranked among the top 47 credit unions for total assets in the US. As of August 2011, SECU's assets were $2.4 billion.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Rod Staatz, SECU

Mindgrub Moves to Catonsville, Eyes Other Cities for Growth

Social media and application development company Mindgrub Technologies LLC could grow beyond Baltimore.

President Todd Marks says the company is considering an expansion to New York, Washington, D.C., Austin, Los Angeles or Las Vegas where it has clients.

The company recently tripled the size of its staff and moved into a new office in the historic First National Bank building in Catonsville.

“We were practically sitting on each other’s laps, so we had to make another move,” Todd Marks says. “Fortunately for us we lucked into one of the best buildings. The area we are in has some of the finest restaurants around, a skate park behind us and a very hip community."

Marks says he has dubbed his new basement “the Vault,” which will be its new wine cellar.

Mindgrub is still looking for help. The company is currently hiring a junior account manager, production manager, several mobile and software engineers and a quality assurance lead.

Mindgrub will be launching a new mobile app in Las Vegas this week.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Todd Marks, Mindgrub

Ray Lewis Tackles Cycling Workout Videos

Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis is expanding his business portfolio and capitalizing on his athletic prowess with the launch of his newest enterprise, RL52 Cycling LLC. 

The company will provide equipment, training regimens and workout videos for both experienced cyclists and beginners. RL52 Cycling has rolled out its first offering, a series of cycling workout videos. The videos, “No Limits” and “4th Quarter Grind,” are designed to provide high-intensity, low-impact workouts.

“Ray Lewis has always been passionate about the importance of educating and motivating all ages to live a lifestyle of health and fitness,” says Laura Rosen, RL52 Cycling’s vice president of marketing and product development. “He formed the RL52 Cycling Company to offer products to everyone, whether you are an entry-level fitness enthusiast or a world-class athlete. He wants to excite people to get involved in cycling and to get fit.”

The Spinervals workout came about when Ray and his friend and workout partner, former NFL player and United States Olympic Bobsledder Greg Harrell, began cycling together off season and quickly realized the anaerobic and aerobic benefits of cycling. Lewis began studying performance gains from cycling and partnered with former professional triathlete Troy Jacobson last summer to develop the Spinervals Cycling series.

RL52 Cycling plans to offer co-branded equipment, accessories, apparel, nutritional & wellness supplements and training programs to cyclists. The company is also developing cycling based programs for high schools and team sports.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Laura Rosen, RL52 Cycling

MICA, Hopkins, Launch Joint Degree

Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School and Maryland Institute College of Art are teaming up to offer a joint MBA/MA in Design Leadership next fall.

Billed as the first program of its kind in the US, the program will marry traditional business courses with those in art and design to train leaders in architecture, architecture, the fine arts and other creative fields.

The partnership anticipates enrolling students of diverse educational backgrounds including grads in business management, fine arts, finance and design. The new program will be an 18 to 20-month, 66-credit program of study.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: MICA and Johns Hopkins University

Credit Unions Aim to Capitalize on Bank Discontent

As the financial crisis deepens and consumer outrage grows over new fees, credit unions are seizing an opportunity to bring more members into their organizations.

The Maryland & DC Credit Union Association is launching a new ad campaign to highlight the features that credit unions have to offer potential new members.

The Maryland & DC Credit Union Association has launched a website to inform consumers about the potential advantages that they could receive from joining a credit union. At whatsinitforme.org, people thinking about making the switch to a credit union can find out the basics of what credit unions are all about and read a blog about the programs and policies of credit unions.

The association has also launched advertising spots on Baltimore radio stations, outdoor banner ads and online ads promoting credit union membership and the benefits of credit unions. The spots focus on the potential money savings for consumers who choose credit unions over traditional banks.

Source: Maryland & DC Credit Union Association
Writer: Amy McNeal

Howard County Cites Verizon, Humanim, Among Healthy Workplaces

Howard County has named Verizon Wireless, Columbia Bank and the Hotel at Turf Valley among the area’s healthiest employers.

Launched two years ago, the county’s Healthy Workplaces program recognizes companies that develop programs to address six factors: nutrition, physical activity, wellness, mental health, environmental health, and safety.

Verizon Wireless, for instance, has instituted several programs to increase its employees’ health and wellness as well as provide family friendly amenities. Corporate facilities have large fitness centers that are available to employees. The company offers smoking cessation, on-site mammography and nutrition seminars. The company also offers lactation rooms at both of its corporate offices. The company employs nearly 1,800 in Laurel, Hanover and Columbia.

Other winners include Athelas Institute, Baltimore Aircoil Co., Humanim, Jolles Insurance, Thrive, Tower Federal Credit Union and W.R. Grace & Co.

Source: Melanie Ortel, Verizon Wireless
Writer: Amy McNeal

Nonprofit Ranks Maryland a Top Energy Efficient State

Maryland's efforts to become more energy efficient are gaining recognition.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has ranked Maryland as a top 10 state in energy efficiency. The organization recently published its 2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard rankings and cited Massachusetts and California as the top two states.

The council bases its rankings on states’ efforts to use energy efficiently in their residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors.

Maryland received high marks in transportation and transit-oriented development. The council recognized Maryland’s high standards for tailpipe emissions and land use transportation planning.

Energy efficiency goals and programs under the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 also contributed to Maryland's high score. That legislation directs the Maryland Public Service Commission  to require Maryland's electric utilities to provide energy efficiency services to its customers to achieve 10 percent of a 15 percent per-capita electricity use reduction goal statewide by 2015.

The governor’s office estimates that since 2009, Marylanders have saved more than $117 million through efficiency upgrades, reduced consumption and investments in renewable energy options.

Source: Maryland governor’s office
Writer: Amy McNeal

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