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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

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

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

Maryland/Israel Fund Invests in Speech Recognition Firm

The Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund L.P. is making its first major investment in NovoSpeech Ltd., an Israeli developer of speech recognition technology.

The $550,000 investment will help NovoSpeech develop a new algorithm that will make speech recognition technology more accurate. The company expects to achieve greater than 95 percent success rate with its speech recognition software.

NovoSpeech is working with a major manufacturer to embed its software in its Bluetooth devices and use the speech recognition technology as firmware. NovoSpeech will be launching its first smart phone application at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

The Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund is operated by the Maryland/Israel Development Center and the Trendlines Group. The Fund is designed to provide capital investment in early stage startups in Israel in the life sciences, information technology, agritech and clean tech industries.

“Speech technology is the next frontier in computing. Novospeech’s technology brings the promise of speech recognition to the market today,” says Maryland/Israel Development Center head Barry Bogage.

Source: Maayan Jaffe, The Associated
Writer: Amy McNeal

Baltimore Named Top 10 Digital City

The Center for Digital Government and Government Technology recently named Baltimore as one of the top 10 digital cities in the country. Baltimore was ranked at number 9 on the list. The survey ranks cities based on a number of criteria to determine which are using technology to the greatest benefit of its citizens.
In its eleventh year, the Center for Digital Government Digital Cities Survey is conducted annually. The survey is the first and only survey model providing a sustained assessment of city governments’ use of information and communications technology. The Center for Digital Government’s Digital Cities Performance Institute identifies and promotes best practices and emerging trends in the public sector IT community.
The survey uses a number of criteria to determine which municipalities make the cut, and which aren't quite keeping up with technology. The top 10 cities are selected in four different population based categories. Municipalities are then judged on their commitment to technology use,  the impact of technology  across multiple municipal program areas, measurable progress on technology use and initiatives from the prior year, cost savings in hard and soft dollars across the municipality brought to city programs and departments as a result of technology use, innovation in adding new technology and using new technology tools and an attitude toward technology that demonstrates a spirit of  effective collaboration.
This is Baltimore's first appearance in the top 10.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Baltimore City, Government Technology

Dynamic Shared Services Launches

AVF Consulting founder Andrew Fass and his team have launched a new business. Dynamic Shared Services will provide accounting, membership management, dues processing, and reporting services to school systems, non profits and local unions nationwide.
“It is exciting to identify and develop new business opportunities that compliment AVF,” says Andrew Fass, CEO and founder of AVF Consulting, Inc. “As a Microsoft Silver ERP partner, AVF provides Microsoft Dynamics financial management software and services to unions, nonprofits, and other businesses. It makes sense to leverage our experience into new opportunities.”
The business emerged from an opportunity created by AVF's relationship with the country's fastest growing union - Service Employees International Union. SEIU was looking for ways to provide accounting services for some of their local union members.  
“Many organizations and small school districts do not have the bandwidth to perform all the necessary, accounting, reporting, and processing required to maintain their operations,” says Fass.“DSS’s experts are proficient at these services and can provide them at a cost savings. Because DSS is a shared service organization, our clients have access to technology that they may not have been able to afford on their own.”
Jeanette Gaines, co-founder of the new business, will be the chief operating officer of DSS.
Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: AVF Consulting

GiveCorps Uses Innovation to Spur Donation

GiveCorps is changing the way the non profits in Baltimore raise funds by offering charitable donors in the Baltimore area a sweet deal: give to something good, get something good.
“Our tag line is ‘Give Local. Get Local.’ The local aspect of GiveCorps is unlike other online giving platforms. For donors, GiveCorps provides an easy method to both support and learn about local nonprofits and get great discounts for merchants in return. We provide both on line and off line ways to engage in the community as well as great weekly newsletter GiveCorps Plugged In. GiveCorps offers non-profits a new vehicle for targeting younger donors, a new marketing platform and a vehicle to raise funds,” says GiveCorps founder and president Beth Falcone.
By soliciting small gifts from potential donors instead of looking for money from the same small pool of donors, non-profit organizations are able to connect more easily with the people who support them but can only offer up a small donation. Their supporters donate money through the GiveCorps site, and in return they score deals at Baltimore merchants, restaurants and attractions.
“GiveCorps is built around the notion that small gifts matter and everyone can be a philanthropist. The idea was to create a broad network of $10- $25 dollar young philanthropists who regularly visit the site, the GiveCorps Facebook page or receive and respond to the daily e-mail,” continues Falcone
Response to the site has been strong. GiveCorps has raised over $36,000 for Baltimore's non-profits, with an average gift of $36. The company hopes to expand the concept into another city in 2012.
Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Beth Falcone, GiveCorps


Klover Events Add Something Special

Kateri J. Harried, owner of Klover Events, got her start in the events planning business in
the fashion industry in Philadelphia. She brought that knowledge with her to the Baltimore
Museum of Art, helping to launch and run events at the museum including Free First
Thursdays, the African Spirit series and Jazz in the Sculpture Garden at the BMA.

Kateri is now putting her event planning experience to work for herself with the launch of her new business, Klover

“After more than a decade in the events business, both full-time and freelance, working with
large scale galas, street festivals, fundraisers and concerts, along with private affairs like
weddings, baby showers and parties, I wanted to take the reins and work more closely with
clients and execute their vision for well-produced events with my design sensibilities,” says

Klover Events specializes in creating memorable weddings, baby showers and corporate
events at any budget level. The start-up intends to stay a boutique firm in order to allow for
greater attention to detail for its clients' events. Still in the early launch stages of the business,
Klover Events has found success in its niche.

“Whether we are producing a conference or a wedding, our clients recognize the quality and
value in the product we provide, so we’ve seen a steady flow of business, though there are
some ebbs, here and there,” adds Harried.

Kateri also intends to continue working with her favorite local events and causes as she
builds the business. Kateri Harried will be speaking about wedding budgeting and planning at
the bridal forum at Soliloquy Bridal in Herndon Virginia in Feburary.

“The opportunity to work with executing a dynamic vision for the people in the community I
live and work in, along with the causes I care about is easily the most fulfilling aspect of what I
do,” says Harried.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Kateri Harried, Klover Events


Sickweather Combines Illness Mapping With Social Networking

If you're trying to beat the sniffles and sneezes of cold season, Sickweather is looking for you.
The new illness mapping social networking site offers users the opportunity to see maps of
local illness “hot spots” based on data collected from users, Facebook status updates and
Twitter streams.

“With Sickweather, we hope to offer a new and useful resource to help people stay healthy. It
really is baffling to me that people check the weather report every day before they leave the
house or before they go on a trip, but health related symptoms go ignored. If people prepare
for the weather by bringing their umbrella with them, why don't they do a similar thing by
drinking an extra glass of orange juice in the morning to boost their immune system?” asks
Sickweather COO James Sajor.

The Baltimore based start-up behind Sickweather is preparing to launch the social networking
site , which is currently in its final Beta testing phase. The brainchild of entrepreneur
Graham Dodge, formerly involved with Crime Map, and marketing expert James Sajor,
Sickweather aims to not only help healthy people avoid virulent spots, but also allow people
with compromised immune systems and their families a resource to help them avoid exposure
to a potentially life threatening germ.

“I had recently moved back to Baltimore to take care of my mother, who was diagnosed
with an advanced stage of cancer. She was going through a variety of treatments, and her
immune system was severely compromised. That meant that I could not get sick. It would
actually have been a life-and-death situation if I caught a common cold. I was extra careful
when I left the house. So when Graham approached me, I immediately saw the value in the
idea,” says Sajor.

In addition to the final beta testing of the site, Sickweather is also developing a mobile app
version for Android and iPhone.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: James Sajor, Sickweather


JobOn Brings Tech Solutions To The Service Job Market

A newly launched company on Kent Island aims to change the way that retail and service industry workers find jobs. JobOn is using an online platform, complete with video, to connect retail and service industry workers looking for jobs and employers looking for help. JobOn offers job seekers the opportunity to post recorded video interviews to save them the running around that can be a big part of looking for a service industry job.

"Our objective is to improve the job search experience for seekers. We no longer want them to go to multiple stores, fill out paper applications, go home and wait for a call to come back for an interview. Now, using a webcam or smart phone, they can offer a recorded interview first and send it to several possible employers. Their search is more efficient and they have a better platform to showcase their skills." says Chris Ourand, Chief Marketing officer at JobOn.

JobOn was launched on September 13th at the DEMO conference in Santa Clara, California. The company was founded by former DICE executive Jody Presti and IT expert Dave Atherton. The site offers opportunities from over 200 employers from Maryland and the surrounding area. "We are excited that we have launched at a time when the market is perfect for our product. Technology is readily available with most people having webcams and smart phones, and the need is tremendous. From the results of the last six weeks we expect the concept to take off and the business to grow steadily for quite some time," continues Ourand.

JobOn hopes to expand its service to include job opportunities from across the nation in the future.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Chris Ourand, JobOn


CampaignOn Launches to Change The Campaign Management Landscape

Towson-based CampaignOn, launching in November, will offer people running for office a suite of tools and the expertise of campaign management professionals in one package and at a price that most campaigns can afford.

"We really believe in the candidate who is serious and wants to run the best possible campaign. We're the game changer. This is something that will dynamically change the way that they run their race," says Herbert Sweren, President of CampaignOn.

The company's Campaign Manager Solutions suite offers office seekers several tools for success. Victory Map allows candidates to enter state-obtained information about likely voters into a program that will generate an interactive map detailing the locations and records of likely voters, with 16 options for categorization. VoterMonster makes interactive and updatable campaign sheets for use by workers detailing the locations of volunteers, donors, and signs to be placed for maximum efficiency. Town Hall Live allows candidates to conduct online town hall style Q&A meetings with potential constituents. The software contains additional tools for tracking mailers, spending, sending email, and template messages. The package also includes expert advice from the CampaignOn staff.

Formed by business expert Herbert Sweren, former Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen, and advertising executive Barry Silverman, CampaignOn aims to make the tools of professional campaigns accessible to even grassroots local efforts.

"An  average client will have a  $50,000 budget, some less. We can save them 60-70% of their operating cost, and they can put that back into things that will help them get elected. We can guarantee that they will be the best educated, best organized candidate they can be if they work with CampaignOn," Sweren continues.

IT solutions for the software were handled by Adventure Web Productions. One of the partners' goals is to use Baltimore-based service providers whenever possible. CampaignOn's Campaign Manager Solutions software launches in November. The company will be launching Chief of Staff Solutions, software devoted to helping incumbents stay in office, in the near future.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Herbert Sweren, CampaignOn

TEDCO Hosting Entrepreneur Expo

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation, a state-sponsored agency to encourage technological and entrepreneurial development in Maryland, is hosting the event "2011 ENTREPRENEUR EXPO: Harnessing the Power of Innovation in Maryland" on November 14 at the BWI Marriott. The event is designed to serve as a kick off for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Maryland.

The program of events includes a prize competition entitled "Entrepreneurial Launch Pad" in which conference participants are offered 3 minutes on stage in a conference hall to explain to a panel of judges and audience members what their business is doing that is innovative. Prizes will be awarded to the most innovative entrepreneur.

The Expo will also offer a Marketplace exhibition hall where Maryland companies and emerging entrepreneurs can showcase what their companies are doing with exhibits and demonstrations. The Marketplace will offer a Town Square central area with interactive programming and curated sessions by Betascape. Attendees will also have the opportunity to search for a mentor at the Meet Your Mentor event, a speed networking event with over 50 service providers and entrepreneurial support organizations participating.

Early Bird registration is available through October 20th.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: TEDCO

Members Hotel Network Online Travel Savings Club Launches In Columbia

Nik Mody and his partners, Vinit Mody and Roshan Patel, are using their experience in the hospitality industry to launch a new online travel savings club. Based in Columbia, MD, Members Hotel Network aims to create an online travel booking site that benefits both guests and hoteliers.

Typically, bookings that come to hoteliers through an online travel agency cost the hotelier about 22% in commissions paid to the agency. Travelers booking through online travel brokers are often unaware that hotel franchisees are obligated to enforce a rate parity concept by their corporate parents that ensures that online brokers and the hotel's online site are providing the same rate. Booking travel through a broker also usually means that a traveler is unable to collect loyalty points for the booking.

"Our purpose is to serve the two most important entities in the process, the guest and the hotelier," says MHN founder Nik Mody.

The company launched the club's booking site in June. At the Members Hotel Network site, club members can book hotels and rental cars at a club discount around the country. Bookings through the site qualify for hotel and rental car company reward programs, as well as discounts from AARP and AAA. Club members also earn reward points from Members Hotel Network that can be redeemed through the site for cash back rewards.

"We continue to have good traction since our June launch with significant increases in membership registrations and reservations. The public is gaining a better understanding of what it means to have all of their perks back at no cost," says Mody

Members Hotel Network recently added staff at its Columbia office, and is looking at expanding further in the near future. The club is offering free membership through the end of September.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Nik Mody, Members Hotel Network

Small Business Survival Summit Offers Business Knowledge in Troubled Times

The inaugural Small Business Survival Summit was held at the Baltimore Convention Center on September 7 -9. The idea for the Small Business Survival Summit grew from a grassroots effort spearheaded by founders PJ and Patrick Chambers, the minds behind the Harford County web design firm WebIXI. The master of ceremonies for the event was Bob Paff, a noted local motivational speaker and founder of Integrated Benefits Corporation.

The workshops, lectures, and networking events were tailored to the needs of small business owners. Workshops including "Getting Social Media Savvy- Building Your Buzz Online" and "Social Media Blueprint" were designed to offer introductory and intermediate lessons to small business owners looking to increase their online presence. Marketing was featured prominently in the majority of the Summit's workshops.

"You can make the best cupcakes or coffee, but what does it matter if you don't promote it?" Paff says.

Workshops on obtaining government contracts, upcoming legislation relevant to small business owners, logistics, and employee relations were also offered. The Small Business Survival Summit featured specific activity tracks dedicated to Marketing (Traditional, Online and Social Media tracks), Non Profits, Leadership & Organization and Government and Your Small Business, to allow business owners to easily keep up with the topics of interest to them.

"We're looking to do this every year," Paff continues. "Small business is the backbone of this country."

Also on the program of activities were networking events and lectures. Evening banquets featured entertainment and inspirational talks from luminaries, including speeches by Dr. Ben Carson and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Small Business Survival Summit, Bob Paff

Localist Scores Sole Source Vendor Status in 4 States

Baltimore-based calendar management firm Localist has been designated the sole source vendor for online calendar projects run by public organizations in four states. Localist has won this designation from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

"Several public run institutions have agreed that Localist is the only company that can adequately meet their needs when it comes to offering a unified events calendar to students," says Localist co-founder and CEO Mykel Nahorniak

The Localist platform gives schools and organizations that they work with the opportunity to upgrade their online calendar offerings from something static to something dynamic, including linking the calendar to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

"We're going to use the great momentum that we're seeing to continue to establish a critical mass in the education space. We're also getting great feedback from our work with media organizations, like TBD in Washington, DC. We plan to pursue this space more thoroughly in 2012," Nahorniak continues.

Localist also recently announced that the company has been selected by 8 new universities -- including Georgetown University, Towson University, and Virginia Military Institute -- to provide an interactive calendar platform for student life on campus. Baltimore Collegetown, an organization of 14 area schools, has also chosen Localist for its online calendar.

The growing company is looking toward the future with a possible deal in the works with a major southern university. Localist is also monitoring what kind of technology students are using on campus, and developing new features to reflect those choices.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Mykel Nahorniak, Localist
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