When it comes to the need for technological innovation, Maryland has been putting its money where its mouth is for more than 20 years. The state legislature established TEDCO in 1998, and in just two decades, the economic impact to the state has exceeded $1 billion.
TEDCO has assumed a critical role in fostering the local innovation ecosystem, nudging technologists out of their silos, building pipelines to market, and providing that vital early-stage capital link to kick-start promising Maryland companies. Let’s look at how far the state has come in just 20 years toward creating a strong and supportive environment for entrepreneurs.
Connecting Research to Commercial Opportunity
The concentration of more than 50 major government facilities, including NASA-Goddard and the Army Research Lab, gives Maryland a unique edge when it comes to transferring intellectual property out of the federal labs into the public marketplace. However, far too often, these labs find themselves insulated from the business community, leaving cutting-edge technologies dormant or “sitting on the shelf.”
We sponsored our first Federal Lab Technology Showcase with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab back in 2000, and have continued aiding technology commercialization with 30 additional showcases over subsequent years. These showcases have drawn thousands, and have pushed Maryland’s technology professionals out of their silos and into cross-discipline collaborations. By creating these bridges and making connections, we are leveraging expertise from specialists across the state and building a road for dynamic innovation across sectors.
Building Commercial Pipelines
Maryland has been recognized as a place where technology comes to life. Some of the most revolutionary technologies have come directly out of our thriving higher education institutions.
In 2012, TEDCO launched the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII), a partnership between the state and five major research institutions. MII is designed to allow the universities to leverage each other’s strengths. We know innovation comes from active collaboration, and by connecting these powerful institutions we are paving the way for incredible discoveries and important inventions by our most promising young companies.
Look at Harpoon, a University of Maryland spin-out that received MII funding early on and just last year was acquired by Edwards Lifesciences Corp. They cited TEDCO as a vital partner, helping them through the tech transfer stage to demonstrate progress and traction. And they aren’t alone: Sonavex, LifeSprout and many others boast similar success stories, leveraging early support from TEDCO to find market viability and a demonstrable promise of growth.
A Vital Capital Link
Cash is the life-blood of an entrepreneur. However, traditional venture capitalists are risk averse and often will not invest in unproven start-ups. TEDCO, through its Seed Investment Funds and Maryland Venture Fund, offers access to early-stage capital and is willing to take on calculated risks by investing in aspiring new start-ups.
It’s important that we, as a state, demonstrate how serious we are about making diversity a priority. At TEDCO, we already have. We recently launched the pre-seed Builder Fund, created to support the development of start-up companies run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This year, PitchBook named TEDCO the most active investor in female-founded companies in the Maryland, D.C. and Virginia area. With the state’s support, we are building great, diverse companies that will last and stay in Maryland.
A Good Start
Maryland has made a concerted effort to cultivate local innovation. But it’s only the start. Technology, by its nature, changes quickly and often without warning, and we all need to stay diligent if we want to lead innovation to market. I95 Content Marketing