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Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launches in Baltimore

Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launched in Baltimore this month.

Users download the Lyft app on their iPhone or Android device and select their pickup location. They request an available driver and get a "lyft" where they need to go. After the ride is finished, users rate drivers on the app and give them a donation. The donations are collected through the app itself, and drivers keep about 80 percent of their take.

Co-founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer in San Francisco last year, Lyft is an offshoot of Zimride, a digital ridesharing community that came to be in 2007. 
Lyft was founded in San Francisco and currently operates in a total of 16 cities. An influx of $60 million in Series C funding in May, led by Andreessen Horowitz, has allowed Lyft to scale. Lyft's Boston operation launched in May and marked the first East Coast location for the business; D.C. was the second East Coast city and launched in August.  
Drivers must be at least 23 years old and drive a car with a model year of 2000 or newer. They must pass various screening interviews, criminal background checks and DMV checks, and their vehicle must past inspection. Lyft also carries heftly liability insurance on its drivers--$1 million per occurrence. These factors should make users feel secure in requesting a ride from a pink-mustachioed car.
Sean Mandell, a top-tier driver for Lyft in San Francisco, has been giving riders "lyfts" for eight months. "It has been a great experience and has provided great stories, new friends and great networking," Mandell says. "[Lyft] has revolutionized transportation needs in San Francisco."
Writer: Alyson Jacob

A version of this story first appeared in sister publication Elevation DC 

Emerging Technology Center signs up 10 companies for new Highlandtown office

So far 10 tech companies have committed to joining the Emerging Technology Center's new Highlandtown office when it makes the move from Canton Oct. 25. 

The city-run tech incubator will relocate to the King Cork and Seal Building, at 101 North Haven St. 

ETC has also signed up two new companies in its virtual-affiliate program, which accounts for about one-third of the 86 companies in its portfolio. Companies in the virtual program do not have offices but can use ETC facilities at the new Highlandtown site or its other office @ JHU Eastern in Charles Village. ETC president Deborah Tillett declined to name the two companies since the paperwork is still in progress. She says she expects the number of clients in the virtual program to grow. 

Tillett said that some of the companies in the ETC Canton are graduating and thus will not be transitioning to the new ETC Highlandtown. The ETC Highlandtown is laid out with dedicated offices for 11 companies, for which 10 offices are already committed. "We filled the offices quickly. We're quite happy," she says.

The Baltimore Development Corp. oversees the ETC, which houses startup and early-stage companies. The new ETC will occupy less square footage in Highlandtown than it did in Canton, though Tillett says the new location has more usable work space.
The ETC Highlandtown will occupy 20,000 square feet of the 70,000-square foot King Cork and Seal Building. In Canton, the ETC occupied 45,000 square feet in the Can Company, but only 30,000 square feet was usable for offices. The remaining 15,000 square feet was shared common space.
“We paid for it but we could not monetize it,” she says, referring to common space like lobby, halls and stairways. "We need to be thinking efficiency and the Highlandtown building has a more efficient layout and use of square feet."
The ETC moved into the Can Company 15 years ago as the neighborhood was transitioning from primarily industrial to a popular residential and retail neighborhood.
“Our leaving the space leaves [the Can Company] room for expansion,” she says.
Tillett called Highlandtown an “up and coming” neighborhood with “a lot going on.”  It is a state-designated Arts and Entertainment District, near Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and on the route of the future east-west Red Line light rail.
ETC Highlandtown’s 10 tenants are the following: 
• 6th Street, an online retail marketing program;
• ADASHI Systems, an emergency response management program;
• American Business Forms & Envelopes, which makes software for printed business forms;
• EventRebels, which provides conference and trade show software;
• Foodem, a B2B wholesale food marketer that is hiring;
• NewsUp, an organized news delivery service;
• Pieran Health Technologies, which sells custom health software;
• Same Grain, which develops social discovery technology;
• Adecio, a digital marketing firm; and,
• New Sapience, a language comprehension software maker.
Source: Deborah Tillett, Emerging Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash

Fast Company:Intelect Corp

Baltimore’s Intelect Corp. was founded by Rohit H. Patel in 1995 to serve the systems needs of the transportation industry.
It began with a few customers, primarily in public transportation and with several leading integrators and manufacturers. Some of the earliest projects included writing specifications for complex communications systems, as well as contracts to perform low and high voltage systems upgrades.

As Intelect grew, the list of projects grew to include engineering, implementation, information technology consulting and intelligent transportation systems. In 1998, it created a division to meet the needs of technologically advanced systems in consulting.
The Canton firm now employs 80.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Fortune magazine recently selected Intelect as one of its 2013 Inner City 100, a list of the fastest-growing inner city companies in the U.S. Intelect was No. 93 on the list. The Inner City 100 program recognizes successful inner city companies and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices and job creation in America’s urban communities.

Edgewebhosting opens third data center

Edgewebhosting Inc. is opening its third data center in Phoenix, Arizona, in August. To accommodate expected growth, the managed cloud hosting service expanded its corporate headquarters in downtown’s Baltimore's SunTrust Bank Building last month and is hiring nine, all in IT, to its current 41 employees. 
A $5 million loan from M&T Bank financed the Phoenix data center, CEO Vlad Friedman says. The company already has two data centers on the East Coast. The first opened in 2005 in a building near Baltimore’s Lexington Market; the second in 2010 in Ashburn, Va.
The company’s data center in Phoenix is intended to offer more options and more security for current customers and to attract future customers. “Our service hosts important web sites for companies that need to remain secure, online 24/7, backed up and safe from hackers,” says Friedman.
Customers will have the option of choosing their primary location for web hosting and a secondary location.
“Customers can choose between two completely separate geographic areas and different time zones,” says Friedman. “We want to attract more enterprise customers to host their information in Baltimore by leveraging the strategy of going West.”
Edgewebhosting offers hosting on the cloud and, since cloud hosting isn’t suitable for every client, a combination of cloud and other technologies. The company’s fee is based on a combination of resources and managed services, and is fixed with the customer beforehand.
“The services are the same. The only thing that changes is the scale,” says Friedman of fees that range from $300 to $100,000 per month.
Customers include health insurers Aetna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Heritage Foundation, the Humane Society of the U.S.,Oxford English Dictionary, Columbia University and local advertising and marketing agencies.
Founded in 1998, the privately-financed company was originally located in Owings Mills, in Baltimore County. In 2005, it moved to the city because it needed a site that had the electricity and internet connectivity to handle thousands of servers.
Friedman says the company is on track to earn $13 million to $14 million in revenue for 2013. For the last six years, revenue has doubled every 36 months, and revenue from cloud hosting has grown 100 percent every six months for the past year.
The Baltimore data center expanded by 50 percent last year to handle customer demand. Edgewebhosting itself doubled its staff in the past 18 months, to its current 41, and has openings for an additional nine positions, for database administrators, server administrators and software developers. 
Source: Vlad Friedman, Edgwebhosting Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Constellation in the running for $7B in federal alternative energy contracts

Constellation is in the running for up to $7 billion in federal contracts to install alternative energy technology in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force bases in this country and abroad.

The Baltimore-based regional energy provider, a subsidiary of Exelon, last month qualified to provide up to $4 billion in geothermal alternative systems. The company has submitted bids to qualify for the remaining, up to $3 billion, for solar, wind and biomass systems.
The Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production contracts stem from a congressional mandate to reduce the U.S. military's reliance on fossil fuel. The goal is for U.S. Department of Defense installations to receive 25 percent production and consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2025. In 2012, the department reportedly spent more than $21 billion on conventional fuel contracts.
Constellation's executive director of the federal energy management programs John Dukes says geothermal was likely chosen as the first renewable to install because the technology can provide a reliable, steady source of energy for heating and cooling.
“The army strategically laid out geothermal as the biggest opportunity in compliance with their mission. It is starting with geothermal because that’s where they see the biggest bang for their bucks,” he says.
Dukes expects to hear by August whether Constellation qualifies for any or all of the other three renewables. He does not know how the up to $3 billion in contracts for solar, wind and biomass will be divided.
For the geothermal contracts, Constellation is one of five companies to qualify to bid on such contracts. The other companies are EEC Renewables LLC, California; Enel Green Power North America, Massachusetts; LTC Federal, Michigan; and Siemens Government Technologies, Virginia.
Within the next three to four months, the defense department will issue requests for proposals for possibly seven to nine projects within the U.S. and abroad. Dukes does not know if and when more geothermal contracts will be offered, although a meeting this week with army officials might answer that question.
The contracts will include power purchase agreements, meaning that the award-winning company builds and maintains the geothermal system at its own expense but has a guaranteed market for the energy produced. The government will buy the energy at a predetermined rate in long-term contracts that can run up to 30 years.
Geothermal uses the subsurface temperature to produce energy. There are different technologies and delivery systems depending on the location. Dukes says Constellation intends to bid on every geothermal contract although there is no guarantee that it will win any of them.
“It’s going to be highly competitive but we expect to be successful,” he says. “The awards will be based on the lowest price of electricity from the different geothermal technology.”
Source: John Dukes, Constellation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Cybersecurity conference highlights trends, opportunities

The setting was an auditorium at Howard Community College, in Columbia. The organizer was the Maryland/Israel Development Center. And the topic was cybersecurity, with a panel of experts from federal government, private industry and defense contractors who last month highlighted trends and opportunities in the field.
Cybersecurity is reportedly a $55 billion industry in the U.S., although the state economic department does not have a specific breakdown for Maryland. There is also no separate ranking for the cybersecurity industry among the state’s industries.
However, by 2016, the federal government’s cybersecurity budget alone is expected to reach $14 billion. Last month, the National Security Agency at Fort Meade broke ground for a reportedly $3.2 billion cyber command center.
The agency is one of a half-dozen federal defense and intelligence agencies near Baltimore. Also located here are large financial institutions like T. Rowe Price and Legg Mason, and healthcare facilities like Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the University of Maryland Medical System – all of which have their own cybersecurity teams.
Ed Jaehne, chief strategy officer of  Hanover, Md., defense contractor KEYW Corp., sees opportunities, particularly for small and medium sized companies that can respond to market needs.
“A lot of innovation occurs in them,” says Jaehne, for, in the industry term, agility, meaning programs that identify a cyber attack is happening and implement a course of action.
More than two-thirds of companies aren’t aware of having been the target of a cyber attack until months later, he says, and then only because a third party like a security company notices unusual activity.
“You cannot respond to cyber threats without agility,” says Jaehne. “The absence of cyber awareness is both a management issue and a technical issue.”
Panelist Matthew Speare, chief technology officer of M&T Bank, says the bank’s cybersecurity focus is to prevent attacks on its corporate and commercial customers.
Speare wants protection that is built into the business process. “It should occur automatically without human intervention,” he says.
Panelist Frederick Ferrer of National Security-Cyber Consulting, in Baltimore, says programs must better predict the type of attack and how to prevent it.
“There is great concern at the national level,” says Ferrer, a member of the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence, a quasi-independent agency, and, at the time of the conference, director of cyberspace for Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services.
“Terrorists are becoming better at cyber attacks, and within a year they may have the capability to cripple the U.S. economy by any number of attacks. They don’t want to steal things or be a nuisance. They want to destroy things like the national electric grid or Wall Street.”
Ferrer gives another example of cyber attack. An American steel company has spent millions of dollars and two years to develop a special chemical formula, proprietary information a competitor — business or nation-state — would love to have.
“It doesn’t have to be a Stealth Fighter or a U.S. Department of Defense project” that needs protection, he says.
Sources: Ed Jaehne, KEYW Corporation; Matthew Speare, M&T Bank; Frederick Ferrer, National Security-Cyber Consulting
Writer: Barbara Pash

New app helps you find the cleanest local beaches

If you're looking for the safest and cleanest beaches this summer, there's an app for that.

Assateague Coastkeeper, a clean water advocacy nonprofit in Berlin, has launched a free app that tells if beaches and waterways in Worcester County are safe and open to the public, based on official monitoring of bacteria count.
The Swim Guide App can be downloaded from the Coastkeeper’s website or from iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper, calls the Swim Guide app a one-stop shop for swimming, fishing and water sports in Ocean City, Assateague and surrounding areas. 

Swim Guide information comes from Worcester County, which monitors the bacteria level at Ocean City beaches; the U.S. National Park Service, for Assateague Island’s beaches; and Assateague Coastkeepers, for Coastal Bay waterways like Horn Island, St. Martin’s River and Herring and Turville creeks where jet skiing, kayaking, standup paddling and other sports are popular.
Phillips updates the Swim Guide weekly, usually on Thursday night or Friday morning. It will remain operable through Labor Day Weekend.
Phillips expects the guide to be an annual summer program. She says the Assateague Coastkeepers is looking for funding to expand it next summer. “We’d like to put in the popular kayaking launch sites,” she says.

Assateague Coastal Trust runs Assateague Coastkeeper. The trust is a partner of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international movement of 200 clean water advocacy groups, whose Lake Ontario group inaugurated the app program in 2007.
“There was an issue of pollution. The Lake Ontario group thought it would be a public service to have a single place people could go to find out if a beach was open or not, and also to raise awareness of Waterkeepers,” says Phillips.
The idea quickly spread to other groups around the Great Lakes, then to California and the Pacific Northwest. Phillips estimates that about 50 Waterkeepers-affiliated groups now have apps for their local waters.
The app has proven so popular that Assateague Coastal Trust, which is funded by private donations, decided to inaugurate one for Worcester County, its jurisdiction.
Source: Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper
Writer: Barbara Pash

Hunt Valley software developer launches first product in big data marketplace

Hunt Valley software developer Revelytix this month is selling its first product to process and manage massive amounts of data, known in the field as big data. Since last year, Revelytix has been transitioning into the big data space, and the release of Loom Dataset Management for Hadoop is the culmination of that process.
Founder and CEO Michael Lang calls Hadoop a “data lake,” into which clients’ data is dumped. Created by Yahoo engineers in 2005, it is a free, open-source software platform that supports systems with thousands of nodes, in the jargon, of data. Yahoo, Facebook, eBay and IBM, among others, use Hadoop for data storage.
Loom Dataset, the new product, is intended to keep track of and manage a company’s data in Hadoop. Loom was launched as a beta product last February before putting it on the market.
“Whenever you have open-source software, there are always capabilities and feature gaps that many businesses want. We built software that runs with Hadoop and adds value,” says Lang. 
Lang founded Revelytix in 2007.  So far, its primary customer has been the U.S. Department of Defense. With the launch of Loom, however, the company is aiming for the commercial market although it will continue working for the federal defense department.
Loom is priced by size of the enterprise system. A “starter kit” for small enterprises using 20 Hadoop nodes costs $35,000 to $40,000; for larger enterprises using 1,000 nodes,  $500,000 to $1 million, according to Lang. Revelytix has partners that service Loom, including Spry, Knowledgent, Hortonworks, Global IDs Inc and HP Squared LLC.

“The ability to process big data is life or death for large enterprises,” says Lang.
Revelytix is a private company with a staff of 19. Lang expects to hire more staffers in the future depending on sales of Loom.
Source: Michael Lang, Revelytix
Writer: Barbara Pash

Canton startup pitches emergency management software to federal agencies

Adashi Systems LLC, a Canton emergency management software developer, is expanding its market to include the  federal government and is coming out with the latest version of its software platform for first responders within the next few months.
Brian Pollack, business development manager, says the company’s traditional customer has been local government. This year, the company is changing its sale focus to federal agencies, starting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Pollack says Adashi has 1,500 customers at city and county levels in nearly every state in the country. In Maryland, they include Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Queen Anne’s County.
The majority of customers are fire departments or hazardous material teams within fire departments. It also has customers among police departments and US Marine bases that have their own fire departments.
Adashi offers four software products. Dispatch, the basic offering, provides navigation, routing and planning data. First Response offers navigation, planning data, hazard modeling and incident guidance. Command Post, the most comprehensive, combines the Dispatch and First Response products and provides a response management system linking commanders.
The fourth product, Navigation and Routing Option, has a GPS tracking system. It is included in Dispatch and optional with First Response and Command Post.
Pollack says the technology was developed at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Edgewood and a company called OptiMetrics had a license to develop the software.
The privately funded Adashi is located in the incubator, Emerging Technology Center at Canton. Pollack does not know if it moving to the ETC’s new Highlandtown location in October.
Adashi is a finalist in the state’s 2013 incubator company of the year award, the winners to be announced next month. The company has a staff of 12, and has immediate openings for four positions for engineers and developers.
Source: Brian Pollock, Adashi Systems LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

VisiSonics seeks $750K in angel funding for new product

VisiSonics Corporation is seeking $750,000 in its first round of funding from angel investors so the College Park startup can launch its first software product, RealSpace, by the fall. 
VisiSonics produces software and hardware to improve the sound spatialization, or three-dimensional perception, over headphones and on smart phones and tablet devices.

Last year, the company changed its business direction to focus on developing and marketing its software, which CEO Ramani Duraiswami says is a bigger market compared with hardware.
The software, for mobile and consumer electronics, is currently in a testing stage. The goal is to make it easy-to-use and more efficient for consumers and potential industry clients like the gaming industry.
“Customers want better audio and music on their portable devices. Our software can be programmed into any device to make it full and rich,” says Duraiswami.
Founded in 2009, VisiSonics is a spinoff from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is located on the College Park campus’ incubator, the Technology Advancement Program.
The company originally focused on special hardware, called an “audio camera,” to capture sound, with accompanying software to analyze the sound for a variety of uses. The hardware captured sound in already-existing spaces like classrooms, concert halls, stadiums and work environments.
Duraiswami says the company had over $500,000 in sales of hardware, from customers like the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Stanford University and the US Naval Research Laboratory.
“If they were designing a concert hall, for example, the hardware would determine if and where the sound was appropriate,” says Duraiswami. “It helped customers to characterize the sound environment.”
Last month, the Baltimore-based University of Maryland Ventures chose VisiSonics as the first winner of a newly created Start-Up Prize to help startups commercialize their products.
UM Ventures is the first joint partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park. The UM Ventures prize is intended to bring innovative technologies to the market.
James Hughes, director of UM Ventures and president of Research Park Corp. says the criteria for the Start-Up Prize is a combination of the potential impact of the startup’s technology and how far the startup has come since founding, especially in the last year. VisiSonics was a semi-finalist in this year’s Investment Maryland Challenge.
Hughes says the prize will be awarded annually and with a dollar amount at least equal to the $5,000 VisiSonics received. VisiSonics also received a $75,000 loan from the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) for commercialization.
VisiSonics has six full- and part-time employees. It is looking to hire up to four staffers, in software and business development, this year.
Sources: Ramani Duraiswami, VisiSonics; James Hughes, University of Maryland Ventures
Writer: Barbara Pash

WBAL-TV is bringing mobile TV to Baltimore

Baltimore news station WBAL-TV recently signed an agreement with New Jersey's Dyle mobile TV to bring live broadcast programming to viewers who want to watch news and other programs on their cell phones. The move will help the local NBC affiliate expand its reach and stay ahead of the competition with new technologies. 

Roger Keating, senior vice president of digital media for WBAL parent Hearst Television Inc., says the technology will be available by the end of this year. 

Dyle mobile TV operates through a receiver accessory, sold for $84.98 on Amazon.com and other outlets. The accessory, about the size of a matchbox, has an antennae. It plugs into a smart phone or tablet, turning it into a television. Dyle technology is available now for iPhones and will be ready for Android devices in a few months.

“The worst case scenario is that it wouldn't begin until the end of this year,” Keating says. The timeframe depends on the engineering work, like upgrading WBAL's transmission tower, that is needed to implement mobile TV.

Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, calls Dyle mobile TV the "next step" in television technology. "The intent is to build another product for our consumers," he says.

"We are trying to build a network in a market. Maybe there will be other TV networks in Baltimore that will have [mobile TV] in the future."

Indeed at least one already has. Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. said earlier this month that it is doing so in 10 of its stations, including WBFF Fox 45, in the next six months.

Mobile Content Ventures, a partnership of 12 major broadcast companies, operates Dyle mobile TV. Keating says Hearst TV already transmits the Dyle service to three of its stations, in Cincinnati, Greenville, S.C.; and Orlando, Fla.

Sources: Roger Keating, Hearst TV; Dan Joerres, WBAL-TV
Writer: Barbara Pash

Butchers Hill web development firm Fastspot adding staff, new services

Butchers Hill web design and development firm Fastspot LLC is expanding. The company is adding a new department in analytics and search optimization to boost its marketing support for clients and will hire four employees to add to its staff of 14 over the next six months. It is looking for web developers and designers and project managers, President Tracey Halvorsen says.
The company is also adding new features to its free open source content management system, BigTree, to make it more efficient. The Butchers Hill web design and development company's updated product will be available this summer to the web community through its own website and that of BigTree’s.
“Anyone who wants to use it can,” Halvorsen says.
Fastspot introduced BigTree as open source software last year, where it turned out to be popular among higher educational institutions and museums. Halvorsen says the new features are being developed but declined to specify them as they are still being developed. She says the company will continue to sell it as part of a project.
“But we don’t want clients to feel locked into it and we want to see what others in the design and development community do with it,” she says.

Halvorsen says the company will roll out its new department over that timeframe. The department’s services will be offered on an hourly fee basis. The department comes in response to client request.
“After we launch a website, it’s important to know who is coming to the site, is the content performing as well as it should and is the structure of the site working?” she says.
Fastspot has a national client base of higher educational institutions, cultural institutions, nonprofits and museums. They include Bucknell University, Tufts University, Johns Hopkins University and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Fastspot doesn’t take on projects of less than $50,000. Large projects can cost $200,000 to $500,000 and take from nine months to two years. Most higher education clients’ projects run in the six figures, she says. Fees are based on an hourly rate and annual maintenance contracts are available.
Fastspot was founded in 2001. Halvorsen says revenue at the privately funded company has increased by at least 10 percent per year since founding.
Source: Tracey Halvorsen, Fastspot LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Towson startup builds a better bridge inspection system

Towson engineering startup Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC is going after its first round of angel funding of $115,000 by the middle of this year. The startup will seek to close on its second funding round of $500,000 by the end of the year. The company's goal is to have raised $1.3 million by early next year, primarily from investors and loans and, possibly, its first product. 
Founder and Owner Tom Greene, says the money will be used to produce aesir, a computer system intended to replace existing bridge inspection equipment. By 2015, he plans to produce another four aesirs.
The aesir system will contain three-dimensional, ground-penetrating radar, laser profiling and digital imaging. The system will be mounted on top of a van that is driven on or under a bridge. Scanning the bridge in a 3-D format allows the inspector to find defects below the surface, where deterioration typically starts.
The system’s data will then be analyzed to pinpoint where and what the problems are, and to compare it with previous bridge inspections for rate of deterioration.
Greene says technology like 3-D and lasers already exists, and aesir will integrate it into a single system. A Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPs) grant for more than $400,000 is funding development of the system Greene says.
There are more than 600,000 bridges in the US, of which about 159,000 are in urban locations. The bridges must be inspected annually or every two years depending under whose jurisdiction – local, state or federal – they fall.
Greene expects to price the aesir, which can be used multiple times, at about $400,000. He will initially market it to government agencies and, subsequently, to engineering firms that are often hired to inspect bridges.
“The infrastructure is aging while the traffic is increasing. You have the same number of bridges from the 1970s but traffic volume is six times greater and trucks are much bigger,” he says.
Greene founded Sustainable Infrastructure in 2011. A year later, the company moved into the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator at Towson University. The company has a staff of three.
“Aesir has potential use in tunnels but right now we’re focusing on bridges,” he says.
Source: Tom Greene, Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Three new companies join UMBC cybersecurity incubator

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Northrop Grumman Corp. last month expanded their Cync cybersecurity  program with three new companies, including the program’s first international one. The three firms joined the five companies currently at bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park in Catonsville.

The folowing three companies entered the Cync program:
  • iWebGate is relocating its headquarters from Perth, Australia, to Maryland. It is developing a multi-tenant security-tested network between private networks and the Internet;
  • DB Networks, of Silicon Valley provides behavioral analysis of database security equipment. It intends to grow its mid-Atlantic region; and,
  • Baltimore's Light Point Security, which is working on protecting corporate networks from web-based malware.

Northrop Grumman and UMBC jointly select the companies for the 18-month long Cync program, which began in 2011.
Chris Valentino, director of contract research and development for Northrop Grumman Information Systems in Annapolis says the program is for early-stage companies to grow and develop their cybersecurity products. He identified global security, data analytics and technology as areas that are of particular interest. Valentino says he also considers how the product fits into Northrop Grumman’s portfolio.
Northrop Grumman pays for Cync program companies’ office space and equipment at the UMBC incubator. Its own entrepreneur-in-residence at the incubator works with the companies on business plans and marketing.
Valentino says the Cync program is getting requests from companies outside the U.S. and elsewhere in the country. “They wanted to expand to Maryland specifically for the Cync program and to work with federal government,” he says of the companies.
Northrop Grumman provides a link to potential customers in the federal marketplace. “Our intention is to partner with the companies,” he says.
Ellen Hemmerly, executive director at bwtech@UMBC, says there are more than 100 companies in the research and technology park. Of these, two-thirds are early-stage companies that are participating in one of its three incubators. Bwtech’s cybersecurity incubator has 35 early-stage companies and another 10 companies that are more mature businesses.
Of the 35 early-stage companies, eight are participating in the Cync program. She says that when the Cync program was established, there was not an absolute number set on the number of companies that could participate.

"We projected five to six companies at any one time, and we are staying within that framework.”
Sources: Chris Valentino, Northrop Grumman Information Systems; Ellen Hemmerly, bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park
Writer: Barbara Pash

White Marsh company partners with Microsoft for cloud computing

Motifworks Inc this month entered into a partnership with Microsoft to promote its cloud platform, Windows Azure. This is the first partnership between the White Marsh cloud, mobile application and data analytics company and Microsoft.
Motifworks’ contract is for one year and renewable, CEO Nitin Agarwal says.
Motifworks provides the technical help to companies using Windows Azure. Motifworks follows up on companies in the area that have contacted Microsoft about Windows Azure.
Agarwal says Mofitworks’ goal is to sign up at least two companies for Windows Azure during the year of the contract.

“Companies lack skill sets in new technology like cloud and mobile. We help them fill that gap, and bring their product to market faster,” Agarwal says. “Rather than develop their own departments, it’s become more acceptable to outsource.”
The company focuses on the financial, legal, retail, education and management sectors. Most clients pay a monthly fee, but some pay per project. Clients include Sears, SafeNet, Global Scholar, Wellscape, Lender Processing Service and local technology startups.
Since Agarwal founded Motifworks in 2010, the company has almost doubled sales every year for the past three years. He expects to double sales in 2013. It pulled in $1 million in revenue during fiscal year 2012.

Mofitworks has two offices. In Bangalore, India, it employs 40. The White Marsh virtual office has a staff of seven. The company is hiring two staffers with Microsoft expertise for its White Marsh location.
Source: Nitin Agarwal, Motifworks Inc
Writer: Barbara Pash
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