The Columbia-based Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) hosted the organization’s fifth annual ICE Awards in May. Held at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center, the awards program recognizes outstanding businesses and individuals from TEDCO’s portfolio of more than 300 seed and early-stage companies.
Winners were selected from nine finalists in the areas of Innovation, Corporate Excellence and Entrepreneurship. More than 200 representatives from TEDCO’s portfolio companies and partnering organizations attended the event.
In addition to the ICE Awards, TEDCO presented its third annual Vanguard Award to former Congresswoman Beverly Byron, the first TEDCO board chair, for her integral support of TEDCO and dedication to moving the organization forward from its first day. Every year, the award is given to an individual who has supported TEDCO’s mission — and without whom the organization wouldn’t be a leader in innovation, funding and networking for entrepreneurs and startups.
During the event, TEDCO President and Executive Director Rob Rosenbaum highlighted the organization’s achievements during the past year, which included the launch of a new Cybersecurity Investment Fund with $1 million appropriated by the General Assembly. The organization is on target to make seven or eight dedicated cyber investments in its first year.
Also, a new Executive Exchange Program launched in January adds to TEDCO’s mentoring activities. Other new programs include executive roundtables that target particular groups, including female technology executives.
“We are doing loaned executives, as well as personal and professional business coaches, for high potential entrepreneurs,” Rosenbaum said.
Thanks to the efforts of this year’s Augustine Commission that explored changes to economic development in the state, the legislature and Gov. Larry Hogan approved the transfer the Maryland Venture Fund from the Department of Business and Economic Development to TEDCO.
“We’re in the process of integrating that effort,” Rosenbaum said. “That means TEDCO will be able to take a concept from proof of concept on the bench through an A Series venture investment.”
What that means for entrepreneurs, he said, is the possibility of garnering about $1.5 to $2 million, end to end, for companies managing to sequence through all of TEDCO’s programs.
Additionally, a $500,000 federal grant will enable TEDCO to begin medical device commercialization work this year.
So much program expansion doesn’t happen without consequence, however.
“We will have a new address before the year is done because we’ve completely outgrown our current space,” Rosenbaum said.
Another major announcement recently made by Hogan will be the expansion of TEDCO’s Tech Commercialization Fund from $100,000 for a 12-month project to up to $225,000 spanning 24 months.
TEDCO’s 2015 Award for Innovation was presented to Analytical Informatics of Baltimore, selected for creating a revolutionary data management tool for health care. Analytical’s products include AI Bridge, a data aggregation and EMR middleware platform that powers suites of clinical analytics and mobile health tools.
The company was launched in 2011 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has since created a strategic partnership with Toshiba, a Fortune 500 company. Another partnership with Emocha Mobile Health, another TEDCO portfolio company, resulted in the creation of the nation’s first Ebola database.
Vheda Health of Columbia was among the finalists for the Innovation Award.
The Corporate Excellence Award went to Lookingglass Cyber Solutions, also of Baltimore. The company was recognized for its growth in the number of employees, revenue and investments, as well as community involvement and industry recognition. The company provides a unique lens to analyze information customers may already have, creating active intelligence for effective decisions.
Tom Popomaronis, CEO of Baltimore startup OpiaTalk, was selected as the winner of TEDCO’s Entrepreneur Award for outstanding leadership by a company founder. OpiaTalk is a hyperconversion company with a flagship platform that releases promotional codes that disappear after a short lifespan.
Getting It Right
In presenting the Vanguard Award to Byron, Rosenbaum acknowledged that her own credibility was much needed by the organization in its earliest days.
“She brought a political savviness that was needed … for a new entity and provided a reality check for those who wanted to be a bit more aggressive than was perhaps appropriate at the time,” he said. “TEDCO has come a long way since 1998, but could not have achieved it without the success and leadership that Beverly provided [at the beginning].”
Byron recalled TEDCO’s tenuous start, and marveled at the success it has had in its short history of working with Maryland entrepreneurs.
“When we first had meetings, they were very small with very few people,” she said. “Our first five meetings were spent trying to identify who we were and what we were going to do. If you look at Maryland today in a competitive basis, and look at the entrepreneurs that are here and the competitive nature you all have, there’s no question that we got it right.”