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Maryland hiring another 400 as it preps for Obamacare

The state is hiring more than 400 staffers as it proceeds to implement the federal health program known as Obamacare.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, a key element in the plan, is hiring more than 300 people around the state, of which 107 are in the Baltimore metro and Anne Arundel County region, to operate a program that enrolls individuals and small businesses in the exchange. The exchange is also hiring another 75 to 100 people to operate its central call center. These positions are in addition to the 70 jobs announced earlier whose staffers would be involved in setting up the exchange itself.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, required that each state set up a marketplace for the public and health insurers. In 2011, the Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, an independent state agency, to fill that role. The state is beginning to roll out programs in the state, starting with the Connector Program, which signs up people for the plan, and the call center.

The Connector Program enrolls individuals and small businesses in the exchange. Enrollment for individuals officially begins Oct. 1, and for small businesses on Jan. 1, 2014. The program is hiring staffers, called navigators and assistors, to guide individuals and small businesses through the health insurance options in the exchange. Training for staffers will begin in July and August in anticipation of the official enrollment dates.

The exchange has hired six healthcare vendors to set up the Connector Program in regions around the state. Leslie Lyles Smith, the Health Benefit Exchange’s director of operations, says each vendor has its own hiring practices and application deadlines may vary. Job-seekers can visit the exchange website for the names of the vendors in the regions. Smith says vendors may be contacted directly.

The exchange is spending approximately $24 million, split among the vendors, to set up the program.

Besides the six vendors for the program, nearly 50 subcontractors will support their efforts. Vendor positions include training development and delivery for the Connector Program and staffing and running the central call center, named the Consolidated Service Center. The center is scheduled to open in August. Smith says the state will announce the vendor awarded the call center contract in a few weeks.

Besides the over 400 employees being hired to operate the program and call center, the exchange itself is continuing to hire staffers and vendors for other, future programs. The exchange website has job listings under the “careers” category and instructions to apply. Requests for vendors is on the website under “procurement” along with information about vendors who have already been awarded contracts.
 
The Maryland Health Connection is the exchange’s online portal for the public to get information about its programs, health insurance and tax credit, and enrollment. Smith says the exchange is also launching a social media campaign, tentatively set for May, as a way to inform the public about the healthcare options.
 
Source: Leslie Lyles Smith, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 

Maryland Film Festival highlights movies with Baltimore ties

Baltimore’s underground band scene and city kids on dirt bikes are among the themes featured in movies with local ties at this year’s Maryland Film Festival. Taking place May 8-12, the festival will host 50 features and 80 short films.
 
The following movies have local ties:
•  Matthew Porterfield’s “I Used to Be Darker,” which was filmed in Hamilton, Roland Park and Ocean City and has won festival awards in Nashville and Buenos Aires;
• “Hit & Stay,” which tells the story of priests and nuns in Catonsville who challenged U.S. intervention in Vietnam;
• “12 O’Clock Boys,” a documentary about a Baltimore dirt-bike rider, which just won the HBO Emerging Artist Award;
• “If We Shout Loud Enough,” a movie on Baltimore’s underground music scene and the band Double Dagger; and,
• “I Am Divine,” a documentary on the legendary drag icon that features interviews with John Waters.
 
The film festival added an extra day of movies in response to demand from the audience, says Maryland Film Festival Director Jed Dietz. Many people were turned away from films they wanted to see so festival organizers added more screening times.
 
Gabriel DeLoach, one of the filmmakers behind “If We Shout Loud Enough,” says the movie highlights the great music coming out of Baltimore.
 
“There’s a lack of cutthroat-ness and everyone is really encouraging of one another. There’s all these opportunities for musicians to put themselves out there.”
 
DeLoach lives in Charlottesville and became familiar with Double Dagger and other bands while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art. The band will be present for a Q&A after its Saturday evening screening. 

Says DeLoach, "It's a film made in Baltimore about one of Baltimore's best bands, so I think its only fitting that it screens there."



Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Gabriel DeLoach

Biomedical startup OptiCul seeking $5M in funding for new product

OptiCul Diagnostics Ltd. this month submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of its first product, a device that tests for bacterial presence and promises to shorten hospital stays. Upon regulatory approval, which is expected this year, the Rockville biomedical startup with ties to Baltimore plans to market the device next year.
 
The startup is also seeking $5 million in funding from angel and venture capital investors this year, says CEO and Co-founder Israel Gannot. His wife Gallya Gannot is president and co-founder. Last year, the company raised $400,000 from angel investors.

The startup has eight full- and part-time employees. It plans to hire an additional eight employees, in engineering, marketing and sales, this year in preparation for selling the device in 2014.

Called an Optidet, the device OptiCul is developing can determine if a patient is carrying bacteria and if so which kind within three minutes. 

“The device helps with diagnosis and allows you to treat patients quicker, resulting in shorter hospital stays,” says Gannot, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a professor at Tel Aviv University.
 
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development awarded grants totaling $300,000 for research, which OptiCul conducted with the University of Maryland microbiology and chemistry departments.  
 
OptiCul Diagnostics was founded in Israel in 2008 with seed money from the Israeli government. In 2010, it opened its American headquarters and main laboratory to the William E. Hanna Jr. Innovation Center, an incubator in Montgomery County, where it is still located.
 
Gannot says the device, about the size of a small box, is designed to be placed in a hospital laboratory and used multiple times. The samples, about the size of business cards, are disposable. The device is priced at $10,000 and the samples at $3 each.
 
The initial marketing focus will be the I-95 corridor, Boston to Washington, D.C.,  where, by Gannot’s count, there are 2,500 hospitals with laboratory facilities.
 

Source: Israel Gannot, OptiCul Diagnostics Inc.
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

Baltimore IT healthcare company broadens product offerings

Healthcare IT company Analytical Informatics Inc last month signed a partnership with SchedFull LLC, a Detroit patient scheduling company, to broaden its product offerings. The SchedFull partnership is the first of several agreements the downtown Baltimore company expects to announce this year.
 
CEO Chris Meenan says the downtown Baltimore company is looking to improve efficiency and quality via deals with small companies like SchedFull and with hospitals in the “hot areas” of healthcare, such as staffing efficiency and patient experiences. He hopes to announce a hospital partnership next month.
 
The company offers a suite of tools that improve hospitals' efficiencies. For example, the company has a staffing model that shows which hours are busiest and how many rooms need to available for operations and radiology, both expensive-to-run facilities.
 
SchedFull works with hospitals and physician offices to electronically notify patients about appointments and cancellations. The partnership allows Analytical Informatics to offer an application that addresses the patient experience. 
 
“In the healthcare field, hospitals are trying to understand patients. Hospitals can save a lot of money if they can reduce their no-show rates,” says Meenan.
 
Analytical Informatics was spun out of the University of Maryland, Baltimore technology transfer office in 2011. Data from hospitals, physicians and other providers is aggregated into a central platform to which applications can be added.
 
The company invented some of the applications itself or, like SchedFull, has acquired them through partnerships. Others are licensed from University of Maryland School of Medicine. Analytical Informatics charges about $4,500 per month for the basic model plus several applications of a client’s choice. Other applications can be added for extra fees.
 
The company already has partnerships with hospitals that include Johns Hopkins, University of Utah Health Care and Indiana University Health.
 
Besides Meenan, company staffers are the other three cofounders: Mark Daly, Max Warnock and Christopher Toland. In June, it is hiring at least two staffers, in software development and sales and marketing.
 
Source: Chris Meenan, Analytical Informatics Inc.
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
 
 
 

Interactive marketing firm idfive relocates to larger office in Hampden

Interactive marketing and design agency idfive LLC moved its office from downtown to Hampden’s Meadowmill complex this year to accommodate its growing staff.
 
The company will hire four people by the end of the year, in sales, business development and design, and hired three shortly after the move. The company currently employs 16.
 
Andres Zapata, executive vice president of strategy, says idfive left a 3,200-square-foot office on East Redwood Street for a 3,700-square foot office at 3600 Clipper Mill Road. The company has use of a common conference room and facilities.
 
“We were out of space” downtown, he says. “It doesn’t sound like that much difference in square feet but the way the [Meadowmill] office is configured, we have more work space.”
 
The location offers free parking and is close to the Woodberry Light Rail, Zapata says. Zapata says idfive is making the office more eco-friendly by installing two large skylights in the roof. The skylights will bring in more natural light and reduce energy consumption.
 
Founded in 2005, idfive provides web design, social media and traditional advertising with a focus on higher educational institutions and nonprofits. Revenue was in the $5 million to $10 million range last year.
 
Last month, idfive published a book on higher education marketing. The book can be downloaded free through May. “University X: How to Rescue a College Brand from Bland” was written by Zapata, chief creative officer Sean Carton and marketing director Peter Meacham, and edited by creative director Matt McDermott.
 
After May, the book will be sold via Amazon and Google Play, with paperbacks and an iBook coming out as well. The paperback will be priced at $14.95; the digital versions, $6.99.
 
Source: Andres Zapata, idfive LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

National entrepreneurship program debuts in Baltimore

New York City nonprofit Venture for America, which provides entrepreneurship training for recent college graduates, is adding Baltimore to its roster of cities this year.
 
Venture was founded in 2011 to encourage entrepreneurship through practical experience. It officially launched last year in five cities: Detroit, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Providence, Rhode Island. This year, Baltimore and Cleveland are on board.

In Baltimore, the following companies could get access to talent through Venture: Baltimore Astrum Solar, Parking Panda, Pixelligent, Reify Health, Riskive, SocialToaster and Vigilant Medical.

The fellows, or recent graduates, are recruited from universities nationally, including the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University and, for 2013, University of Maryland Baltimore County and Loyola University of Maryland.

“We send out fellows to cities across the country that have high quality startups and, perhaps, less access to talent than major metropolitan areas,” says Mike Tarullo, vice president of corporate development. “We look for places graduates might not think of going but have great opportunities.”

Most recruits are just getting their undergraduate degree in a variety of majors while others may have already spent a year or two in the workforce.
 
Tarullo calls the selection process “competitive,” with a written application, grade transcripts and interviews on the telephone and in person with board members in New York City. About 10 to 15 percent of applicants are admitted to the program.
 
“We are looking for a high potential for entrepreneurship,” says Tarullo of the fellows, who commit to spending two years in their assigned company and at a fixed salary of $38,000 per year that the company pays.
 
Last year, Venture placed 40 fellows in the five original cities. This year, it is placing 70 fellows in the seven cities. The number going to each city depends on how many companies participate in the program and the “match” between fellows’ interests and startups’ field.
 
“We are hoping 10 fellows come to Baltimore but it depends on the number of startups that are hiring. We don’t have a limit on the number of fellows at each startup but typically it’s one, maybe two,” Tarullo says.

Tarullo says each city to which Venture sends fellows has a different focus. Baltimore is strong on cybersecurity, biotechnology and education technology, he says. “We’re excited to be coming to Baltimore.”

Tarullo credits the Abell Foundation, which gave more than $100,000, for bringing Venture for America to Baltimore. The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO); Betamore, the work space for startups in Federal Hill; and the incubator Emerging Technology Center in Canton are helping Venture connect with the startup community.

 
Source: Mike Tarullo, Venture for America
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 [email protected] 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 [email protected], 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, [email protected] 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

Jessup IT firm ClearEdge hiring 25

ClearEdge IT Solutions LLC, a woman-owned tech firm in Jessup, is hiring 25 software engineers and cloud computing experts to join the 75-person firm by the fall. The company, which specializes in cloud computing and data analysis, moved to a new, larger headquarters in Howard County.

The move is part of an overall restructuring process that will enable the company to compete for more and larger defense contracts, Executive Strategist Nikolas Acheson says.  “We are reorganizing to maximize our abilities, and positioning ourselves for the future,” he says. “We are ramping up to compete as we move from a small to a large company.”
 
ClearEdge IT was founded in 2002. The company is currently valued at about $20 million and anticipates growing by 20 percent per year for the next five years, says Acheson. “The area of computer science that we support is expanding. Customers are looking for efficiencies, to implement new technologies and that’s where we come in."
 
Last year, ClearEdge IT left a leased building in Anne Arundel County to buy and renovate an existing two-story, 36,000-square-foot building in Jessup. Part of the staff works from new headquarters while others work on-site for federal and private customers. Acheson says its main customer is the intelligence community within the Department of Defense, as well as private customers in the defense community
 
The move also allows ClearEdgeIT to expand its certification classes in big data and cloud computing programs like Hadoop and jQuery at its Distributed Computing Center of Excellence. The company founded the center less than a year ago and currently enrolls over 100 students.
 
Classes are open to anyone. Fees range from about $1,700 for a two-day course to $495 for a several-hour course. With the move, Acheson says the company will focus on partnering with its customers to offer training and certification for their employees. A fee structure is in the works. Certification will be offered either within the particular company or to industry-wide standards.
 
“We intend to double, even triple, enrollment and the number of offerings within the next 18 months,” he says.
 
Source: Nikolas Acheson, ClearEdge IT Solutions
Writer: Barbara Pash

Canton's EntreQuest reaches out to universities to promote entrepreneurship

Canton business consulting firm EntreQuest is in talks to partner with three universities and foundations around the country this fall to promote entrepreneurship as it expands its reach in the higher education market.
 
“We want to leverage our assets and use their platforms to add value to their members, clients and students,” says CEO Joe Mechlinski, who is also a best-selling author. He declined to name the universities and foundations until deals are finalized, which  he anticipates this fall.

EntreQuest first entered the university space last December, when it launched the Growth University, an online training and certification courses downloadable from its website. Courses range from sales to leadership at a fee of $297 to $497 per individual course, or a corporate fee of $30 per month per person.
 
Mechlinksi says more than 200 people have downloaded Growth University courses since its launch. He also says that entreQuest this year plans to introduce the Growth Factor, video webinars that feature interviews with business leaders.
 
Mechlinksi’s first book, “Grow Regardless,” was published last February. That same month, it hit No. 3 on The New York Times list of best-selling business books, No. 1 on Barnes & Noble.com and No. 5 on Amazon.com.

EntreQuest offers help in sales, staffing and strategy to businesses. The entreQuest team spends 30 days at the client-company interviewing stakeholders and surveying employees, according to Mechlinksi, who says entreQuest has consulted with about 400 companies around the country since its founding in 2000. The fee depends on services and size of the client.
 
The client receives a detailed action plan for the next year. For an extra fee, entreQuest will stay on site to recruit staff, provide training and fill any other client requests.
 
EntreQuest has offices at the incubator, the Emerging Technology Center at Canton. Its staff also mentor other incubator tenants. The company has 11 employees and is currently hiring three, including a director of products, recruiting director and senior business consultant.
 
Source: Joe Mechlinski, entreQuest
Writer: Barbara Pash

Cybersecurity startup launches product for the global market

TechGuard Security LLC, a woman-owned startup in Baltimore County, is launching its first product for the international market. Bandura Box cybersecurity software will be available through the Catonsville startup or its new wholly owned subsidiary Bandura LLC.
 
“We are still incorporating features needed for an international market and learning the import/export laws. No price has been set,” says Bandura and TechGuard CEO Suzanne Magee.
 
TechGuard provides cyber services, products and training, and research and development to protect and support national initiatives, including the defense, financial, healthcare, retail and energy sectors. Customers include a large financial organization in Chicago, regional banks, a grocery wholesaler, technology companies and members of the nuclear power industry.
 
In 2000, Magee founded TechGuard in St. Louis, Mo., where it still has an office. In 2004, she relocated the company headquarters to Maryland to be closer to federal government clients and because the state encourages entrepreneurship.

“I have locations elsewhere but Maryland is unsurpassed for entrepreneurs in the country. I found a system and a network of talent and financial backing,” she says.
 
Magee is opening a TechGuard office in Oklahoma City, Okla., in June. In 2010, Magee moved TechGuard into the incubator [email protected] Research and Technology Park. 

TechGuard produces security products that uses a security perimeter defense to block Internet addresses from a particular country with the click of a mouse. Magee says she is focusing on two products: Bandura Box and a product for the domestic market called PoliWall. Priced from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on capacity, PoliWall is sold through TechGuard and Bandura.
 
TechGuard has a staff of about 100, nearly half of whom were hired earlier this year. Bandura has a staff of five. Magee is looking to hire an additional 20 staffers -- cybersecurity professionals, preferably certified in various cyber specialties – to be split between the two companies.
 
TechGuard is privately financed. For Bandura, Magee is considering partner-investors and/or a financing round to raise approximately $2 to $5 million in the next six months to further PoliWall and to reach a global market for Bandura Box.
 
Source: Suzanne Magee, TechGuard Security LLC and Bandura LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

State hiring 70 to manage new health exchange as it preps for Obamacare

The state is hiring 70 staffers to work on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, a marketplace that lets consumers choose health insurers and is a key provision of new federal health rules known as Obamacare. 

The exchange is an independent state agency located in downtown Baltimore and requires a variety of functions, from IT to marketing and management.
 
In addition, the state is hiring companies that will create and/or manage parts of the exchange. When their contracts are finalized, the companies will do their own hiring for a so-far undetermined number of jobs.
 
“A lot of our resources will be through vendors,” says Leslie Lyles Smith, the exchange’s director of operations, of the companies to which the exchange will subcontract various responsibilities.
 
Smith says that most of the future employees, both those hired by the exchange and by vendor/subcontractors, will be in operations and IT. She divided the job areas into the following categories:
  • IT;
  • marketing and communications outreach;
  • planning and partner management, specifically liaison with brokers, third-party administrators and insurance companies;
  • operations and consumer assistance, specifically the call center and navigator program;
  • internal operations;
  • budget and finance;
  • human resources;
  • general services;
  • policy and government relations; and,
  • appeals/grievances.
     
The Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in 2011, following the 2010 passage of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Maryland is one of the first six states in the country to create an exchange, a key provision in the federal law to set up a marketplace for the public and health insurers. In turn, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange opened the Maryland Health Connection as the online portal for the public and small businesses to get health insurance and tax credit information and to enroll.
 
The state began hiring to staff the exchange  last year and is continuing to hire. Smith expects to have most, if not all, the positions filled by the exchange’s opening day. All jobs are posted on the exchange’s website under the “careers” heading. Two recent job listings, for deputy director budget and management and for manager of the call center listed salaries of about $61,000 to $98,000 and of about $50,000 to $81,000 respectively.
 
Vendor hiring is also ongoing and requests for proposals can be found on the exchange’s website under the “procurement” heading. Once a vendor is selected, job-seekers will go directly to the company for information about employment. The number and type of jobs each vendor requires varies.
 
Source: Leslie Lyles Smith, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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