A newly-formed Health Tech Affinity Group will officially launch at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship on Sept. 22, according to Tracy Turner, director of the Howard Tech Council (HTC), which created the entity.

Participants at the launch will learn about new HTC programs — including business building roundtables, networking opportunities and educational programs — as well as explore emerging tech trends in health care.

“This is also an opportunity for people to visit the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship,” said Turner.

The HTC also will head an Innovative Partners Coalition meeting on Nov. 8. The coalition is composed of the Greater Baltimore Committee, Howard Tech Council, Tech Council of Maryland, Carroll County Tech Council, Dreamit, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and Northeastern Maryland Tech Council. Formed in October 2013, it brings large companies into contact with young, innovative companies that may be developing products or technologies that would meet the long-term needs of the larger companies.

In June, during the second annual Innovation Partners Meeting, 10 large companies seeking new technologies and services met with 19 young companies.

For the HTC, the September and November events will be complementary, in terms of boosting the already rapidly-growing health tech and cyber industries in central Maryland and throughout the state, Turner said. “For example, at the Sept. 11 launch, we will talk about how to address gaps in innovation, because that will feed into our Innovation Partners Coalition meeting.”

Transforming Care

Pete Celano, director of Consumer Health Initiatives for the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), will serve as a keynote speaker for the Health Tech Affinity Group launch in September. Chartered by MedStar Health’s president and CEO Ken Samet in 2009, the mission of the MI2 is to catalyze innovation that advances health.

Celano will speak about changes in the health care industry. “Health care is transforming rapidly as a confluence of four factors,” he said. “Smart inventors have realized they can make sales to especially big health care systems. There’s a plethora of venture capital. We now have the ability to bolt cloud platforms into our legacy software system, and there’s a stark realization that health care patients are really consumers.”

Celano focuses on making patient access more convenient and friction-free, and has developed as a major area of interest cloud platforms that can tie into electronic medical records to drive new system revenue, reduce costs, improve outcomes and extend access. He is also exploring screening patients using evidence-based questionnaires, especially on the web and through mobile applications.

Following Celano’s presentation, three local health tech companies will share their stories, including how they got to where they are and technology highlights.

Building Maryland

Robert Zimmerman, an entrepreneur and business leader, is on the planning committee for the new Health Tech Affinity Group launch. Zimmerman focuses on developing innovative, efficient approaches to mitigating and preventing the risks from the growth and increasing prevalence of health information technology.

He has been one of the drivers in the development and launch of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act HITECH Express security and privacy compliance solution, as well as the QI EXPRESS platform for enhancing and managing health care quality and certification.

Zimmerman also was a founder of the Maryland Health Tech Coalition. “We really believe there is a void of groups through which health tech organizations can represent themselves, discuss issues and network,” he said, “yet health tech is one of the hottest industries in Maryland. The state could really be a leader in this. In fact, we see a huge opportunity for Howard County, central Maryland and really the entire state.”

Building Conduits

Groups such as the HTC are taking larger roles in building what tech leaders define as “an innovation economy.” Groups such as the Innovation Partners Coalition are an important component in such an economy, said Marty Rosendale, senior executive adviser for the Tech Council of Maryland.

“As a conduit between young companies and large corporations, it provides a very valuable service in matching companies and then providing a place for them to meet in-person,” said Rosendale. “It’s truly a win-win, and we are excited to see all of the partnerships that result from the coalition’s efforts.”

The November meeting will focus on both the health tech and cyber industries, said Turner, noting that her former work with the Maryland Business Incubation Association has helped drive her strategy with the Innovation Partners Coalition.

“We’re also able to partner with the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship to provide a place for smaller companies to land during the day,” she said, “and this enforces our mantra of business development.”