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Annapolis Medical Device Maker Partners With Boston Hospital On Patient Monitoring

Annapolis medical device company Zephyr Technology Corp. is collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital on its OmniSense system for monitoring patients' vital signs. 

Paul Costello,  Zephyr's vice president of mHealth Sales, says the OmniSense system is used to monitor patients in the hospital and after they are discharged. The system allows staff and physicians at the Boston hospital to track and measure their health while they are recuperating at home.
Costello says the OmniSense device is about the size of a silver dollar and weighs an ounce. It is attached to the skin with two “smart” electrodes. The system works within the confines of a hospital without interfering in the facility’s electronic and internet equipment.
Zephyr makes sensors that measure vital signs such as electrocardiogram, heart rate, breathing rate and skin temperature. The real-time physiological status monitoring is transmitted via high-level wireless such as mobile phones, PDAs and the web.
The company has a variety of product lines, for use by professional sports teams, fire and rescue, law enforcement and Special Forces groups. It also sells consumer products. For example, its heart rate monitor went on sale this month, at a cost of $79.
Zephyr was founded in 2003 as an engineering services firm. In 2005, it received a contract from the US Department of Defense to develop a physiological monitoring system that US Navy Seals could use in combat. From there, the company branched out to monitoring the medical aspects of First Responders. The company is growing and recently hired four people for a total of 36 employees. 
Zephy is privately-owned and venture capital-backed. Backers include 3M New Ventures, Motorola and iGlobe Partners.
Source: Paul Costello, Zephyr Technology Corp.
Writer:  Barbara Pash

Competition Awarding $150K to Startups

If you’ve got a great idea, AccelerateBaltimore wants to hear from you. Sponsored by Baltimore City and the Emerging Technology Centers, the second AccelerateBaltimore has funding for six companies that can move from an idea to a product in 13 weeks.
Applications are available online through Nov. 30. The Abell Foundation is the funding partner, providing $25,000 per winner, who receive free working space, legal help and access to all services at either of the two centers in Canton or Hopkins/Eastern, for 13 weeks. 
The Emerging Technology Centers (ETC) held the first AccelerateBaltimore last April. It was the first such event in the state and the first in the City of Baltimore. There were four winning companies out of 40 applicants.  Winners of the first AccelerateBaltimore were social networking firm Kithly, NewsUp, NoBadGift.com and Unbound Concepts. Publicity about the competition was limited, says ETC Director Deborah Tillett, but there will be a major effort this time to reach out locally and nationally to potential applicants via the incubator network. 
“Accelerates are the next evolution in startup cultures,” she says. “One of the most important things for entrepreneurs and small businesses is access to capital. This is a real shot at that. The $25,000 can put you over the edge.”
Applicants do not have to be Baltimore-based and if they win, they do not have to stay in Baltimore after Accelerate ends.  A panel will narrow applicants to 12, who will be invited for in-person interviews. Winners will be announced on Jan. 7, begin working in the Center of their choice in February and have a viable technology product ready by the end of May.  
At Accelerate’s conclusion, the six winning companies will pitch their product to a group of investors.
Although Accelerate is open to all start-ups, Tillett says they have to use modern technology to create new business solutions. ‘They have to end up with an actual product,” she says, noting that having the technical co-founder of the start-up as part of the company team makes that result more likely.

Source: Deborah Tillett, Emerging Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tech Networking Group Startup Grind Launches in Baltimore

Start Up Grind, an international community of entrepreneurs and investors, makes its debut this month in Baltimore. Loyola University of Maryland and Wasabi Venture are inaugurating the group here for monthly meetings, open to everyone interested in technology and startups.
The first local Start Up Grind will take place Sept. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Loyola University, 4501 North Charles St., in the Student Center’s fourth floor programming room. Brian Razzaque, CEO and inventor of SocialToaster, is the guest speaker.
“We were interested in the concept of getting entrepreneurs together, and Start Up Grind is also a way for us to be involved in that community,” said Kendall Ryan, director of events and outreach for Wasabi Ventures. The group serves as an outlet for entprepreneurs who want to network, brainstorm and offer feedback with one another. 
Start Up Grind began last year in Silicon Valley and has grown into an organization with chapters in more than a dozen cities in the U.S. and in countries ranging from Australia to the Union of South Africa. Ryan says that Start Up Grind Baltimore will host a monthly event although an October date has not yet been chosen.
Fee ranges from $10 (with early-bird registration) to $20 per person. The event is free to Loyola University undergraduates and graduates. Ryan says the reception so far has been enthusiastic and she expects at least 150 people at the first event.
Start Up Grind Baltimore joins another group that gives local entrepreneurs an opportunity to get together. Baltimore Tech Breakfast began last year as a casual get-together for about a dozen people and has since grown to a list of 1,000.
Ron Schmelzer, president of the tech company, Bizelo and founder of Baltimore Tech Breakfast, says about 250 people usually attend the monthly event. Meetings are held the last Wednesday of the month except for this month, when the meeting will be on Sept. 27. Meetings are free but pre-registration is required. 
Schmelzer says he started Baltimore Tech Breakfast as a way “to help increase the momentum of technology in Baltimore.” The group is not associated with any organization. Participants are invited to give short, three-minute talks about their companies.
Sources: Kendall Ryan, Wasabi Ventures; Ron Schmelzer, Bizelo
Writer: Barbara Pash

Bizelo Releases New Software For Small Businesses

Baltimore software company Bizelo is coming out this fall with two new applications designed to help retailers and other small business owners manage their inventory, sales, exchanges and returns.
CEO Ronald Schmelzer says the goal is to help small business-owners manage their companies better and at a lower cost than other available products. Schmelzer founded the privately-owned company in 2010 and released its first product last year. The two new applications will be out by October, and the company is on track to have a total of 34 software applications for various business operations by the end of this year. Each product costs less than $30 per month.
“These are not custom apps but they fit general situations,” says Schmelzer, who identifies industries that have a small-business focus, like physicians’ and dentists’ offices, retail stores and restaurants and develops software for them.
Bizelo’s electronic retail supply management application, one of the two new products, is intended to help small business owners buy products online from their vendors. Its return management system, the other new product, helps small businesses with the return/exchange process by generating return labels, keeping track of returns/exchanges and which items are most often sent back. 
Bizelo is located in a commercial building in Roland Park. Schmelzer is looking to hire two to three software developers within the next six months to add to the existing staff of six. 
Last June, he closed out a crowd-funding round that raised about $100,000. He is in the process of launching another financing round, aiming to raise $750,000 from angel and seed investors.
“There’s no reason we can’t develop hundreds of apps,” says Schmelzer.
Source: Ronald Schmelzer, Bizelo
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore City Incubators Enroll New Companies

The Emerging Technology Centers at Canton and Johns Hopkins/Eastern enrolled three new companies in July. They are ADASHI, Canterbury Road Partners and Diagnostic Biochips. ADASHI offers a software platform to network emergency management systems. Canterbury Road Partners is a public/private partnership to help research institutions with technology transfer. Diagnostis Biochips is a life sciences company.
The ETCs have enrolled 18 companies in total since the beginning of the year and are on track to enroll 30 new tenants, its annual average, by the end of the year. That is according to Fulya Gursel, marketing manager for the Baltimore Development Corp.-led incubators. 
There are currently 27 tenants at the Canton incubator and 34 tenants at the Eastern incubator. In addition, the ETCs have 29 affiliates, which don’t occupy a physical space in the facilities but use their services.
Gursel says that as a technology incubator, the ETCs attract a variety of entrepreneurs, including software, hardware, mobile apps, life science and medical devices. Lately, the majority have been mobile apps and web solutions, she says. However, the incubators have programs that attract medical device/life science entrepreneurs as well.
 “We’re getting a lot of new, young start-ups by talented entrepreneurs who are passionate about their ideas," Gursel says. "It shows the strength of the Baltimore tech scene.”
Since 2012, the following new companies have joined the ETCs:
Right Source Marketing
Juxtopia/JUICE Lab
Mobile Tennis Training Tech LLC
Ark Science
Rowdy Orbit
Graphtrack, Inc
Tame Social Mahem
Bolster Labs
Cruse Technologies LLC
Unbound Concepts LLC
Solar Systems Express
FUNR Gaming
Canterbury Road Partners
Diagnostic Biochips
Source: Fulya Gursel, Emerging  Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash

O'Malley Could Lead Trade Mission To Israel and Jordan

Gov. Martin O’Malley may lead a trade mission to Israel and Jordan at the end of this year to encourage trade between Maryland and the Middle Eastern nations.

While in Israel, O’Malley would split his time between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where he would likely meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry and other officials, according to the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC). He would also tour leading businesses such as Israel Aerospace Industries, whose subsidiary, ELTA North America, opened its American headquarters in Howard County in April. O'Malley could spend three business days each in Israel and in Jordan from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3, MIDC Executive Director Barry Bogage says. 

Gov. O'Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory says the trip is "being considered" and his participation is not yet confirmed.  

The Maryland/Israel Development Center, the Baltimore Jewish Council, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Maryland Department of Economic and Business Development would organize the trip. The first two are both agencies of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

MIDC Executive Director Barry Bogage is arranging the agenda and recruiting interested Maryland entrepreneurs and executives who want to join the trip at their own cost. He is working with Israeli government officials and business leaders and with the U.S. Embassy to coordinate the Israeli trip while the Baltimore Jewish Council is working with Jordanian officials for that portion.

In Jordan, O’Malley's home base would be Amman, a two hours’ drive from Jerusalem.

Bogage is also arranging “personalized” business tracks. He is working with the U.S. Department of Commerce to assure that the entrepreneurs and business people who would accompany the governor can meet with their counterparts in their field in Israel.

“We want them to fulfill the goals of their going on the trip,” Bogage says.
Source: Barry Bogage, Maryland/Israel Development Center
Writer: Barbara Pash

GBTC Appoints New Board Members

GBTC, Baltimore's main networking group for the tech community has unveiled its new board, to be officially installed later in the month. It's the latest of changes at the group in recent months, starting with Jason Hardebeck's appointment as executive director late last year. 

Of the 30-member board, half are new while the other half are holdovers from the previous board.

Known as a community for innovators, entrepreneurs and startups, GBTC is in the midst of other changes as well. Among them are the introduction of a weekly video show talking about events for that week and a regular newsletter, to be published every other week.

The show airs on GBTC's blog every Monday at 3 p.m. It can be viewed and download from the blog and/or linked to Twitter. "We're hoping it will become the central place people go to find out what is going on," says Sharon Paley, a GBTC staffer.

Hardebeck says the new board reflects gb.tc's expanded vision for the innovation community to represent a broader mix of members. While the new board is a mix of new and continuing members, the real difference is that the GBTC board will be more active, Hardebeck says.  

The moves comes just months after the appointment of Hardebeck last December as executive director of the nonprofit amid criticism about declining membership and declining revenue from dues.

"This is not a place where you come to a meeting every couple of months to catch up on what has been going on," Hardebeck says. "Our board will be engaged and active with all facets of gb.tc's mission, including cultivation of shareholders and participation in events and programming. There is way too much to do and too many opportunities for gb.tc to make a difference for just the GBTC team. Our board will be an extension of our efforts." 

Gb.tc eliminated its physical office and changed its membership model. Instead of charging membership fees, anyone who wants to be involved in GBTC can.

Paley says the membership group focuses on metro Baltimore, and anyone involved in the “innovation industry,” including software, hardware, the internet, gamers, developers and designers, as well as those affiliated with the industry like accountants, attorneys and marketers.
Since doing away with its physical office, Paley says the four-person staff will be doing more outreach, visiting places where tech companies work and getting an idea of the kinds of programs they want to attend and that sponsors are willing to support.
Sources: Jason Hardebeck and Sharon Paley, GBTC
Writer: Barbara Pash

App Developer Woofound Gets $1.2M in Angel Funding

Baltimore tech startup Woofound has launched a new mobile app for the iPhone and received $1.2 million in angel funding.

The startup is also anticipating another round of financing, adding a new outlet and hiring more staff.
Woofound’s app is a visual personality game called “Me or Not Me.” It is sold in the app store but by the end of summer, Daniel Sines, co-founder and co-CEO with Josh Spears, expects to place the app on the Android Marketplace, recently renamed Google Play.
Soon, the startup will seek another round of financing, perhaps $3 million to $5 million. “We are going more institutional,” he says. It will seek venture capital financing, rather than angel investors, Sines says.
The amount will be based on the results of its launch next month of a commission-based fee from businesses for the app. The app is currently free but businesses will be charged on sales, of which Woofound gets a cut.
The app connects businesses to likely new customers by identifying users’ personality types and then recommends targeted places, activities and restaurants to their types. A Baltimore psychoanalyst and psychotherapist developed the personality test.
“We are offering an extremely personalized solution. We are highly targeted. We have more than 10,000 businesses and experiences on the platform,” says Sines. “The focus on the personal element differentiates us and makes us stand out.”
Sines and Spears founded Woofound in 2011. It is based on their previous company, Social Media Solutions Business, which helped companies manage Twitter, Facebook and other social media in their search for customers. They closed out projects for that company and focused their efforts into Woofound.
Woofound is located in an office in Baltimore County's Middle River area with a staff of 15 and five interns. Sines says it is looking to hire at least two programmers now and more staff over the summer.
Source: Daniel Sines, Woofound
Writer: Barbara Pash


Howard County Event Connects Entrepreneurs With Investors

The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, wants to ignite entrepreneurship in the county. To that end, the development authority is sponsoring its first-ever Race for Innovation, and hoping that it is the spark the sets the fire.
The event is scheduled for Tues. June 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel.  
The idea is for teams to work with coaches to develop ideas into business concepts, which are then pitched to investors.

"We want to drive more innovation and ideas” in Howard County, says Julie Lenzer Kirk, director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, located in the development group's Columbia office. “At the same time, we want to bring intellectual property” into the county.
Gloria Jacobovitz, program director, calls the event “high energy.” Says Jacobovitz, “We came up with the idea to help business development. An event like this usually takes a weekend but we will do it in a few hours.”
Jacobovitz notes that the event gives entrepreneurs and start-up companies an opportunity to interact with investors. “They are going to work together. It will create synergy between them,” says Jacobovitz, who expects 100 participants at the event.
The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship was launched in December 2011. The event is an attempt to branch out to the broader entrepreneurship community, says Kirk, and thus it is open to all, not only Howard County residents.
“We are hoping to start a bunch of new jobs in Howard County,” Kirk says. “That’s why we are doing this event.”
Sources: Julie Lenzer Kirk, Gloria Jacobovitz, Howard County Economic Development Authority, Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship
Writer: Barbara Pash, [email protected]

Loyola Teams With California VC Firm to Fund Startups

Loyola University Maryland is partnering with a California venture capital firm to fund new startups and help grow existing businesses in the Govans area of York Road. Loyola and Wasabi Ventures formed a business accelerator with an office in Govans, a neighborhood in Baltimore City.

Karyl Leggio, dean of Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, says the accelerator will help revitalize the nearby York Road business corridor.

Leggio says the university bought and renovated a two-story building in Govans that is serving as the local office of Wasabi Ventures and out of which the accelerator is operating. Loyola University faculty are offering advice on business plans and marketing. About 20 Loyola students per semester serve as interns at the accelerator.

Wasabi Ventures was co-founded by T.K. Kuegler, general partner and a Loyola graduate. Wasabi is providing professional staff to manage the accelerator. Through Wasabi Ventures and its partnering organizations, funding is available for startups companies, although funding amounts have not yet been established.

Leggio said funding would be based on the level of need. She said, for example, that Loyola has funded student ideas up to $25,000 in cash and services. However, startups and businesses that use the business accelerator may need more funding than that.

Leggio said that the accelerator is interested in technology concepts and startup companies that want advice and assistance to reach the development stage, as well as existing companies in the area that want to grow.

The accelerator is starting with seven staffers, and Leggio says it may hire additional staff as the need arises.

“We are looking to help any kind of business that is willing to locate in the Govans/York Road area, not necessarily technology,” she says.
Source: Karyl Leggio, Dean of Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola University Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash

State Establishes New Tech Transfer Fund

The state and five universities are spending upwards of $5.8 million to help startups move from a concept to a company.  

Senate Bill 239/House Bill 442 establishes the Maryland Innovation Initiative Fund under the aegis of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, or TEDCO. The bill passed the Maryland House and Senate and awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is expected to sign it. 

“Maryland has premiere research universities but it ranks low on technology transfer,” Brian Levine, vice president, government relations, Tech Council of Maryland, says of the fund, which is intended to remedy that situation.
To participate in the fund, five universities are contributing to it. Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore will each contribute at least $200,000 per year. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Morgan State University will contribute at least $100,000 per year. The state has allocated $5 million to the fund, which will begin operating July 1.
Calling the fund “a great benefit for the state,” Rob Rosenbaum, TEDCO’s president and executive director, says. “We have so much research but commercialization is needed. We have to stimulate that activity.”

TEDCO is establishing an office to administer the fund. The fund helps technology concepts reach the startup phase by providing marketing and supporting the the technology transfer offices that already exist at the participating universities.
Rosenbaum says the fund intends to work with 40 projects per year that will result in 12 to 15 new companies. Startup companies initially generate 2.5 jobs on average, with salaries the first year of more than $75,000 per job.
Rosenbaum says that “all policies of the fund have not yet been defined” but the hope is that the startups it helps stay in Maryland.
Ronald Wineholt, vice president of government affairs of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, says the legislation provides better coordination of the universities’ transfer efforts. “Now that it’s under TEDCO, it’s a state-wide effort rather than an individual university,” he says.
Sources: Brian Levine, Tech Council of Maryland; Rob Rosenbaum, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); Ronald Wineholt, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Israeli Companies Coming to Baltimore

Thirteen companies from Israel will convene in Baltimore at the end of the month to gain familiarity with the nuances of doing business and living in one of the country’s top markets for high-tech and medical innovations.
The Maryland-Israel Development Center’s MarketReach symposium is a yearly event that brings together companies that have already received funding from private investors but are looking to test their business and fundraising mettle in Maryland.
In the past, medical innovation companies have dominated MarketReach events, but the 2012 crop of participants includes Organis, developer of an environmentally friendly insect repellent platform, Sol Chip, a company that makes clean energy systems for low-power applications, and Novospeech, which produces speech recognition software.
The event is meant to increase the Israeli companies’ awareness of the US and Maryland markets and create excitement among Maryland-based investors, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Maryland's research base includes Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland professional schools, and the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health, among others.
The impact of MarketReach companies' arrival to explore their options is intended to result in local US bases for the Israeli enterprises. Barry Bogage, Executive Director of the Maryland-Israel Develoment Center, says, "As companies grow, we'll bring them here to open offices in Baltimore and Maryland in general."

More information on participating companies and attending MarketReach America 2012 on March 29 is available at the MIDC website:

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Nancy Boguslaw, Maryland-Israel Development Center

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

Integrated BioTherapeutics Continues to Grow

Integrated BioTherapeutics, a firm that specializes in developing vaccines for infectious diseases and countermeasures for bio-terrorism threats, is growing. The company recently moved into a new, larger facility in the Gaithersburg Accelerator.

The move to a larger facility was spurred by the need for more secure, dedicated lab space as the company develops new vaccine technology. Integrated BioTherapeutics was recently awarded a grant from The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases to develop a second-generation Ebola vaccine in partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch. The company also received a grant from NIAID in 2010 for research and development of a Staphylococcus vaccine. The second phase of that research project is due to wrap up this year. Integrated BioTherapeutics is currently working on projects to create vaccines for a host of infectious diseases, including Dengue Fever, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Marburg Viruses and Ebola. 

"We have a drive to make something that changes the world, to create a vaccine that mutes something that effects people. We strive to help others do that too," says Rob Galioto, Director of Business Development at Integrated BioTherapeutics.

Integrated Bio Therapeutics was recently honored at the inaugural TEDCO ICE awards as Company of the Year. The award was given in recognition of the company's growth. Since its launch in 2008, Integrated BioTherapeutics has secured over $30 million in government research funding, and increased its staff size from one employee to 30. The company is expecting to add five to ten staff positions in the next year.

Author: Amy McNeal

Source: Rob Galioto, Integrated BioTherapeutics

TEDCO ICE Awards Honor Maryland Innovators

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation held its inaugural ICE Awards ceremony and conference at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum on May 11. In addition to the awards ceremony, the program also featured a keynote speech by Peter Corbett, founder and CEO of iStrategy Labs.

TEDCO was established by the Maryland General assembly in 1998, with the mandate to be a leading source of seed capital funding and business assistance for entrepreneurs specializing in technology. In addition to funding, TEDCO also facilitates relationships between start-up tech firms and federal laboratories, research universities, and business incubators. Over 300 Maryland firms are associated with TEDCO.

"TEDCO is the largest seed investor in the region," says Robert Rosenbaum, president of TEDCO. "We thought it was about time that we should recognize the hard work of these folks."

The ICE Awards honor emerging industry leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship. The 2011 Innovation winner was Oculis Labs of Hunt Valley, a developer of encryption technology. Also honored as the 2011 Entrepreneur of the year was Dr. Chuck Daitch of Akonni Biosystems, a firm that develops and markets integrated molecular diagnostic systems. 2011 Company of the Year award winner Integrated BioTheraputics Inc. was honored for its growth and community involvement.

"This is a great forum for our community of collaborators to come together. Everything you see here, this is all 'wow' technology," continues Mr. Rosenbaum.

TEDCO is focused on finding the technologies and entrepreneurs of the future. The quasi-public company is looking to expand beyond state funding into venture capital.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: TEDCO, Robert Rosenbaum & Kathleen Shaffer
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