Archives For July 2012

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport continued its record-setting ways in June, topping yet another passenger mark.

Passenger traffic hit 2,189,148 that month, the airport announced Monday. That total, a 2.9 percent increase over June 2011, is a new June record and the second-busiest month ever for BWI.

“Consistent growth at BWI Marshall affirms the strength and success of this market,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a written statement. “We continue to make investments and improvements to ensure that BWI Marshall remains a convenient gateway to the world.”

Indeed, work began last month on major upgrades to a pair of the airport’s concourses. BWI is adding a new security checkpoint and a post-security connection between Concourses B and C to accommodate growth of Southwest Airlines.

Concourse C will also get some food and retail upgrades.

Southwest, by far the dominant carrier at BWI, closed last year on its acquisition of AirTran Airways, a low-fare rival and BWI’s second-largest carrier. Southwest accounts for 59 percent of the passengers who fly through BWI, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. AirTran accounts for nearly 13 percent.

Southwest now occupies all of Concourses A and B and will be able to grow into Concourse C after the upgrade. The airline once again led growth at BWI in June, serving more than 1.2 million passengers, a 6.5 percent increase over the year before.

“Passenger traffic continues to rise, thanks to growth from our existing airline partners and the addition of new service,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, BWI’s executive director.

Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and British Airways also posted gains in June, according to the airport.

BWI has also added new carriers to the mix this year.

Bahamasair began flying to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in May and Condor Airlines kicked off in early July seasonal, twice-weekly flights to Frankfurt, the third-busiest airport in Europe and a key hub on the continent. Condor serves more than 70 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

Spirit Airlines announced this month it will start flying out of BWI in September. The low-cost, Florida-based carrier will fly two round-trip flights a day to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and one a day to Dallas/Fort Worth from BWI’s C Concourse.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The four young companies in AccelerateBaltimore’s first class graduated from the program after Demo Day had them pitching their ideas to a room of 80 investors, Baltimore tech industry veterans and other guests on Wednesday.

“There was a lot of energy in the room, some good questions and follow-up,” said Deborah Tillett, president and executive director of the Emerging Technology Centers, which runs the program. “They really nailed it, these four companies.”

The companies — NewsUp.me, Kithly, NoBadGift.com and Unbound Concepts — kicked off the inaugural class April 2. All four made it through the program more mature and more confident, Tillett said.

NewsUp, formerly Flying Pig Digital, makes reading the news into a game.

Kithly, formerly Hoopla, has developed a mobile social networking app that organizes actual, in-person meet-ups.

NoBadGift crowd-sources gift giving, allowing would-be gifters to see what recipients want and then pool money to make the purchase. The company has been accepted into the NewMe accelerator in San Francisco.

And Unbound Concepts uses an algorithm to read text and determine a book’s reading level.

Tillett said Unbound got enough commitments from angel investors Wednesday night to nearly finish its first round of fundraising.

“We were really, really pleased,” Tillet said. “The maturity, the confidence and the sheer joy that they were able to get an idea to actually work. That was just amazing, to see somebody’s germ of an idea actually be real.”

Devin Partlow, CEO of Kithly, called Demo Day “exciting and memorable.”

“I learned a lot being in a pitch, and there were some really good questions from some investors,” Partlow said. “It was a really good inaugural Demo Day for AccelerateBaltimore.”

Partlow said his company will remain at the ETC for the rest of the year as it works to get a beta version of its app up and running.

“If we’re looking to raise money we need to show some traction to get [investors] on board,” he said.

As for the accelerator program, Tillett said the ETC hopes to bring it back to propel another class of technology companies toward taking their products to market.

“Our goal is to really learn from this, to see what we did right and what we did wrong, to do what we ask our companies to do — to iterate,” she said.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

For more than a year now a company in Rosedale called Sundial has been quietly putting together care packages for U.S. soldiers in combat zones, those living in African villages and others in out-of-the-way places.

But these are no normal deliveries.

Sundial builds 20-foot shipping containers packed with ready-to-use solar panels, batteries, inverters and all the other components needed to quickly and easily assemble solar arrays in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth.

“It’s the first system of its kind in the world, as far as we know,” said Dan Rice, president of Sundial Capital Partners.

The product is essentially a solar power system in a box.

The 120 solar panels come with stands attached, ready to be folded out on flat ground, hilltops or on top of structures. The bottom of the box is loaded with a few tons of batteries to store excess power and distribute it during the night. There’s also a backup diesel generator for when the solar juice runs dry. You don’t even need tools to set it all up.

“These are assembled here using high-quality manufacturing, here in the United States, and when they roll in you don’t have to assemble it in Nigeria or Yemen or Afghanistan,” Rice said. “It’s pre-assembled and it’s plug and play. All you have to do is pull out the panels and plug in your power and you can power up the village.”

Even the box the solar equipment comes in is useful. It has power, air conditioning, heat and communications equipment — Sundial can monitor the panels remotely to make sure they keep humming — that allow it to serve as a medical clinic, a headquarters building or an internet café.

Sundial President Dan Rice stands in the back of one of the company's mobile solar power systems.

Founded in 2009, Sundial got its start pursuing military applications for its technology. The company’s top executives are in Dallas, New York and Budapest, but Sundial established its manufacturing operations here to get Baltimore area-native Jeff Nicely, the architect of the Sundial systems, on board.

Rice and Keegan Cotton, Sundial’s vice president, are both U.S. Army veterans. They said the military uses an average of seven gallons of fuel to deliver a single gallon to bases in Afghanistan. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported it costs up to $400 a gallon to parachute one gallon of fuel into isolated bases.

But the true costs run deeper.

“For the U.S. military, fuel is not only very expensive in remote areas, but it requires convoys and it requires security,” Rice said. “People die in convoys, so reducing fuel is critical.”

Through its military contract, Sundial hopes to reduce the need for those deadly convoys by producing power on site. Special Forces units have given the Sundial systems a trial run in Afghanistan.

The brains of a Sundial system.

The standard Sundial system produces 28.2 kW of electricity at its peak. One forward operating base of about 40 personnel reduced its diesel consumption by about 61 percent by installing one Sundial system, according to the company.

“No. 1, it saves lives. It helps our troops,” said U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, during a recent visit to the Sundial plant. “This is what we do in the United States of America. Right now, because we’re at war, we have an obligation to give the resources to our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world. This is what you have done here today.”

As it continues its work for the military, Sundial is also pursuing opportunities outside of war zones.

The company recently worked with Chevron to put a plus-sized system in Nigeria to run a water purification system in a remote village. Rice said Sundial is looking at 20 other sites with the energy giant. By the end of the year, Sundial hopes to have systems running in 10 countries across the world.

“This is where we’re going to take what we’ve done with the military — and we’ve proven that we can reduce fuel — and we’re going to make Maryland an energy exporter to Nigeria and other places across Africa and Asia where we can beat the cost of diesel fuel,” Rice said.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The City of Frederick approved on Thursday a raft of economic development incentive programs designed to bring companies to the city and help them expand and add jobs.

“The city strives to provide an environment that supports business growth, job creation and capital investment,” said Mayor Randy McClement. “These property tax credit programs are an important component of supporting continued economic development in our community while also promoting the revitalization and rehabilitation of the city’s existing commercial property.”

The New Jobs Tax Credit program targets businesses expanding by 5,000 square feet and adding at least 25 jobs over a two year period. The Enhanced New Jobs Tax Credit provides incentives for larger employees that occupy at least 250,000 square feet of new space and employ more than 2,500.

The property tax credits are worth 52 percent of the increased assessment for the first two years, 39 percent in years three and four and 26 percent in the two years beyond that.

Richard Griffin, the Frederick’s economic development director, said the city is aware of several businesses that are considering using the credit, but added that it is too early to identify the companies.

“The goal of each program is to spur job creation, revitalization and capital reinvestment in the City of Frederick,” Griffin said.

The city’s programs dovetail with similar credits offered by Frederick County for businesses expanding their footprints and payrolls.

Frederick is home to 3,500 businesses that employ about 60,000 people.

On Thursday, the city’s Board of Aldermen and mayor also created the Historic Preservation Property Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program. The property credit is good for 10 percent of the exterior renovation costs on designated historic properties.

The board reauthorized several other tax credit programs as well, including the Downtown Property Rehabilitation Tax Credit, Golden Mile Tax Credit Program, Vacant Commercial Structures Rehabilitation Property Tax Credit, Downtown Frederick Arts and Entertainment District Incentive Program and Brownfields Mitigation Property Tax Credit Program.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Gov. Martin O’Malley tapped a panel of experts on Tuesday to advise him and other state leaders on ways to support and spur growth in Maryland manufacturing, a sector he called essential.

The move revived the Maryland Advisory Commission on Manufacturing Competitiveness, which was created 1994 but fell dormant in the early 2000s.

“I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming that if we’re going to have a growing economy, it also has to be a diverse economy,” O’Malley said. “Part of that diverse economy must be a manufacturing base. I don’t believe you can long have a growing and functioning economy without a manufacturing base.”

The governor urged the commissioners to give him and lawmakers ideas on how to keep manufacturing competitive in Maryland.

“The legislature is always looking for ideas and guidance and I’m looking for ideas and guidance,” O’Malley said.

Jeff B. Fuchs, director of Maryland World Class Consortia, leads the 25-member commission. MWCC is a nonprofit economic development organization.

“We’ve got a tremendous opportunity, both as a commission and as a state. Despite the decline of industrial activity nationwide over the last few decades, manufacturing is making a resurgence,” Fuchs said. “It’s an impressive comeback.”

Indeed, Maryland has not been spared the outsourcing of manufacturing operations to countries with cheaper labor. The state has, however, scored wins in recent years that build on its rich history of manufacturing steel, spices, sugar, medicines, military equipment and other high-demand products.

When General Motors was looking for a site for its first stateside electric motor manufacturing facility, it chose White Marsh. The plant’s headcount of 200 employees will double next year when the expanded facility opens.

Vorbeck Materials Corp., based in Jessup, revealed plans in June to open a 42,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Pocomoke City on the Eastern Shore. The facility will employ up to 50 people as the company, a leader in the development of graphene nanomaterials, expands.

Vorbeck uses graphene, a lattice of carbon atoms, in applications in communications, energy, transportation and beyond. Vorbeck uses graphene to make conductive ink for printing components for the electronics industry and to develop high-performance lithium ion batteries.

According to the company, smartphones using Vorbeck’s battery technology will charge in 10 minutes and last a full 24 hours. The same technology would quadruple the range of electric cars that now get 100 miles out of 10 to 12 hours of charging.

Tuesday’s kickoff of the manufacturing commission was held in Cockeysville at the MarquipWardUnited plant. The company employs 340 people and plans to expand its staff this year, said Jerry Solomon, vice president of operations.

Marquip makes machines that make cardboard boxes.

“Approximately half of them leave this country, whether it’s Russia, China, the Middle East, South Africa, Brazil, what have you,” Solomon said. “We ship machines from Baltimore, Md., all around the globe.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Federal Realty Investment Trust broke ground on the Pike & Rose project in the White Flint area on Monday, marking the start of Maryland’s first “FastTrack” approved project.

Pike & Rose will be built on a 24-acre site that is now home to parking lots and a strip mall. The walkable development will have housing, retail office and public spaces close to the White Flint Metro Station, making it the first transit oriented development in Montgomery County.

“Four years ago, together, we passed our Transit Oriented Development legislation so we could fight sprawl, cut back on pollution, and revitalize communities like White Flint – while at the same time, creating jobs and spurring growth,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “Today, we’re taking a big step toward reaching those goals.”

The state estimates the first phase of Pike & Rose will create 550 permanent jobs and yield $3.7 million in increased tax revenues to the state.

At full build out, Pike & Rose will have 1.1 million square feet of office space, 1.7 million square feet of residential space and 430,000 square feet of retail. The development will also include a 90,000-square-foot hotel and a movie theater.

Montgomery’s plan for the area around the metro station calls for a total of 17.6 million square feet of development that could generate $6.9 billion in tax revenue over three decades.

“Today’s Pike & Rose groundbreaking, part of the White Flint Transit Oriented Development Plan, represents another successful public-private partnership taking place here in the county,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett. “This effort will bring with it new jobs, tax revenue and increased transit ridership — all the elements you look for in an environmentally friendly, smart growth development.”

O’Malley announced the state’s FastTrack program in January 2011 to spur quicker approval of large projects. The program allows for state agencies to review a project concurrently rather than consecutively.

For Pike & Rose, negotiations over the sale of 3.7 acres of excess state property and State Highway Administration review were expedited.

“The Pike & Rose project is a great example of what is possible when the state, county and local governments work together with the private sector to lay a strong foundation for job creation and economic development,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, who leads the FastTrack initiative. “This mixed-use, transit oriented development project shows that through innovative programs like FastTrack, we can expedite the business development process while maintaining standards for smart growth and environmental protection.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Clean Currents moved to its new headquarters in Silver Spring on June 28 and less than two weeks later — following record heat and powerful storms — Gov. Martin O’Malley visited to celebrate the green energy company’s success.

“As we get past this horrible, hot week of power outages, I think people will be asking a lot of questions — ‘Why is the weather getting more violent?’ — and the conclusion that experts have come to is that the climate is in fact changing and there will likely be even more events in the future,” O’Malley said.

“Then people will ask what can we do about it? Longer term the most important thing we can do is to accelerate our development of renewable energy.”

Clean Currents buys wind power from producers across the country and supplies that electricity to more than 1,000 businesses and 12,000 residential customers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington D.C.

The company is a graduate of the Rockville Innovation Center, a small business incubator. Clean Currents has grown to 21 full-time employees from just two when the company was founded in 2007.

Ron Rodriguez, vice president of business development, said Clear Currents is “very excited” to be in Maryland.

“The climate in Maryland is very business-friendly for what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve, and that is to fight climate change,” Rodriguez said.

Led by O’Malley, the state has set ambitious clean energy requirements. By 2022, 20 percent of Maryland’s power generation will have to come by renewable sources. The state also is required to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2020 and O’Malley has set a goal of reducing power consumption 15 percent by 2015.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Shirley Collier is a serial entrepreneur. She has six startups under her belt and runs three companies now. One, called techGrowth, is developing software that will allow businesses to more easily tap and commercialize government research and patents. Another licensed laser communications technology from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Collier can’t divulge much about the work. (“We’re trying to defy the laws of physics, so it may take us awhile,” she said.) Collier can, and does, however, speak often on the topics of entrepreneurship and technology transfer, issues she has taken a keen interest in as an entrepreneur and advocate. She has led both the Howard County Economic Development Authority board and the International Alliance of Technology Integrators. Collier recently sat down with MDBIZNews to talk about entrepreneurship in Maryland. What follows is an edited transcript of the conversation.

Q: I’ve heard you say the entrepreneurial ecosystem locally needs work. How did it get that way?

A: Innovation really has been the basis of our country. Pioneers came over here because they had a different idea and they took chances. They took risks. They risked their lives and they went west. Taking chances and being innovative is in our constitution. It’s in our DNA. I think we lost that for a couple of years, in the mid- to late 20th century. The emphasis was on getting a steady job at a big company where you would get retirement in 30 years and that was it. Obedience was rewarded.

Q: When did that change?

A: I think it started to erode with the advent of the personal computer. That technology freed up so many people that you had for the first time at your fingertips capability only large companies had before. Now, people could start small businesses, grow small businesses. So, mid- to late ’80s. Of course, when the entrepreneurs became rock stars — Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — then a lot of young people started to aspire to do that and not just what their fathers did.

Q: What does the ecosystem need?

A: It needs a lot. In order for entrepreneurship to thrive, we need culture. The definition of culture in this context is that starting and growing a company needs to be seen as desirable and cool and fun. When I tell people I’ve started six businesses, sometimes their reaction is ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ That would never be the response if you were on the West Coast. Never, never, never. In order for there to be an ecosystem, it has to be something that people want to do and that behavior has to be rewarded in our society. That’s kind of an overarching philosophy. There are some nascent entrepreneurial [support] activities going on in the region. I think TEDCO is very good at what it does. DBED is good in terms of its funding programs. But we do need the private sector to step up to the plate. We need to get some deal flow going and the money will be there.

Q: What can we do increase that deal flow?

A: The whole area of tech transfer probably represents the biggest area of opportunity for us in this region. We have, within these institutions, a lot of barriers. There are policy barriers that prevent employees from collaborating with outside entrepreneurs. In universities, there’s not an equal amount of importance placed on entrepreneurial activities as opposed to publishing. In some government agencies, the employees are prohibited from working with technology businesses. The president signed an executive order last October to to begin placing pressure on federal laboratories to come up with better [tech transfer] procedures and measure their effectiveness. I’m already seeing some changes from that perspective. This intellectual property, these disclosures and patents, have been accumulating and accumulating. There are patents worth trillions of dollars that are sitting on the shelves, collecting dust, because they cannot get through the tech transfer pipeline and into the marketplace. If the federal government really does pull back on their spending, we’re going to see a lot of mid-career and early retirees available. That’s the opportunity to mine the intellectual property available in the universities and labs in the region.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

State and local officials and energy company representatives broke ground on Maryland’s largest solar energy farm on Saturday, launching a project that will provide enough energy to power 2,700 homes.

The 160-acre farm, called Maryland Solar, is located on the grounds of Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown. It will produce 20 megawatts of power when completed.

“Innovative partnerships with companies like First Solar and [FirstEnergy Solutions] allow us to continue our progress in advancing solar energy and creating jobs in Maryland,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “Over the last few years, we’ve helped put 2,000 men and women to work in solar sector jobs and we estimate that over the next six years, we’ll put another 10,000 Marylanders to work in the industry.”

Maryland’s renewable energy goals require that 20 percent of the state’s energy will come from clean sources by 2022. Of that total, 2 percent must come from solar power.

Maryland Solar will boost the state’s solar energy production by 53 percent over 2011 levels. According to state figures, Maryland had 37.6 megawatts of solar capacity last year.

The Hagerstown project will allow FirstEnergy to meet the requirements set by the state when the company merged with Allegheny power. FirstEnergy will buy the farm’s output for 20 years and pay the state nearly $460,000 in rent.

“We are proud to play a key role in the development of renewable energy in Maryland and to help the state meet its renewable energy goals,” said Anthony J. Alexander, president and CEO of FirstEnergy.

First Solar will own Maryland Solar. The company “is pleased to continue its work in Maryland to help the state provide clean, affordable renewable energy to its citizens,” said Maja Wessels, a First Solar executive.

The project is expected to create 125 construction jobs and support at least three full-time jobs over the life of the farm. First Solar has also agreed to partner with Hagerstown Community College to allow its students to learn firsthand about the construction and management of a commercial solar energy farm.

 

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Johns Hopkins University and Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute of Berlin inked a deal last month to jointly develop technology that could reduce the time and money required to perform a wide range of medical tests.

The international collaboration between the major research institutions will investigate the potential medical applications of integrated optical sensors — small, highly sensitive devices that researchers say can recognize diseases.

Researchers hope the sensors will make testing cheaper and quicker. That, in turn, would make testing available to broader populations and treatments more targeted, which could cut down on the spread of drug-resistant strains of diseases.

But, while the technology holds promise, Fraunhofer and Hopkins need more.

Their work would linger on the lab bench without the timely injections of capital that move innovations from the drawing board to the marketplace.

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson met with the partners shortly after the collaboration agreement was signed at the BIO International Conference.

“They said ‘What can you do to help?’” Johansson said, recounting the meeting.

“We were able to have a conversation and for the first time really be able to say ‘We have a pathway of capital to get you to a place where you can turn this into a company where you can raise more private capital, where you can actually have a product,’” Johansson said. “In the past, what we could do to help was, frankly, very limited. We certainly didn’t have readily available tools to help new technologies that weren’t ready for seed financing yet.”

As a first step, Johansson suggested applying for the Innovate Maryland program, an initiative of Gov. Martin O’Malley approved by the General Assembly this year.

A partnership between the state and public and private research universities, including Hopkins, Innovate Maryland is designed to commercialize 40 discoveries a year by providing funding for prototypes and other proof-of-concept work.

Innovate Maryland should catapult worthy ideas to the level where InvestMaryland can take notice. Another O’Malley priority, InvestMaryland, was created in 2010 and seeded this year with $84 million raised in a first-of-its-kind tax credit auction.

Together, InvestMaryland and Innovate Maryland were cited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when it ranked Maryland No. 1 for innovation and entrepreneurship last month.

DBED’s Maryland Venture Fund will invest about one-third of the InvestMaryland money in seed-, early and growth-stage companies and private venture firms will invest the rest of the money on behalf of the state in early and growth-stage businesses.

A company could receive a Maryland Venture Fund investment, grow, prove successful and later catch the eye of a venture fund investing more of the state’s dollars.

The first investments will likely be made this summer.

“There’s a continuum of capital and opportunity that didn’t exist before,” Johansson said. “We’ve built a runway that can take a project from an innovation occurring in our universities through commercialization to company formation and job creation. That is something that didn’t exist before we got here. It’s practical. It’s happening. It’s not science fiction anymore.”

By Kristin Lemmert, Public Information Officer, Maryland Workforce Corporation

On July 1, 2010, Andy Moser walked into an empty office with several boxes, a chair, a personal line of credit, a cellphone, and the idea that a nonprofit could help Maryland more effectively develop and fund programs to workforce training programs.

“In that moment, I knew what it meant to be part of a start-up, the calculated risk you take,” remembered Moser, president and CEO of the Maryland Workforce Corp.

MWC was created by the General Assembly in 2009 as a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the state. The corporation was fully up and running the following July.

Now, two years later, MWC has landed more than $16 million in competitive grant funding for the state “that it would not have received otherwise,” Moser said. “I’m not ready to rest, however.”

One of the few State-associated workforce development 501(c)3 organizations in the country, MWC administers innovative, demand-driven workforce development programs that arm Marylanders with the education and skills they need to compete in today’s challenging job market.

“For us, it’s about developing programs that break down barriers to employment,” Moser said. “We bring together state agencies, colleges, employers, associations and organizations to develop programs that improve lives and our economy.”

The corporation most recently worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Baltimore County to develop the Accelerating Connections to Employment Initiative—a nearly $12 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor that combines occupational training with adult basic education coursework.

MWC has led two projects nationally recognized as “best practices” by the labor department—the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative Green Consortium and Maryland’s Reemployment and Eligibility Assistance program—and has been pivotal in the development and administration of the Maryland Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training program at six community colleges.

“I keep a copy of one of our success stories on my desk. It’s about a father my age who, after lecturing his kids about going to college, decided to earn his GED and receive training in building maintenance,” said Moser. “His story reminds me that we can always do more.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

While to most the cloud is music, movies and shared photos, a company called kloudtrack is shepherding businesses, health care institutions and government agencies into the cloud to cut costs and boost efficiency.

Annapolis-based kloudtrack is now in its 10th year, serving up software solutions that connect disparate data systems within companies and between different companies.

“We’ve created a concept we call the ‘cloud exchange,’” said Mike Binko, kloudtrack’s president and CEO. “The cloud can very easily become that middle real estate where different systems that don’t talk to each other well directly can talk to us well. We’ve created some standards that allow that to happen very efficiently, and very affordably.”

The original technology was developed in Arthur Andersen LLP to give auditors remote access to files and track their use of them. The company that eventually became kloudtrack was spun out of the accounting giant as the Enron scandal took the firm down.

Kloudtrack — the company has operated under that name since 2010 — started with a focus on the heavily regulated securities broker-dealers.

A broker-dealer signing a new client could yield reams of paperwork, Binko said.

“There are lots of signatures and revisions of documents and a whole lot of background paperwork,” he said. “Typically breakdowns can occur when there’s a lot of paper in place and you don’t have an electronic paper trail in place behind that.”

So kloudtrack put an electronic paper trail in place, allowing broker-dealers to shift some of their processes to third-party web infrastructure in the cloud and keep track of them with audit trails and other accountability features.

From the financial services sector, kloudtrack has broadened its focus to healthcare and government agencies.

The company’s software can be the bridge between medical records, billing, e-coding and transcription systems.

“For mid-market firms, the cloud becomes a platform that really levels the playing field,” Binko said.

The federal government is the biggest opportunity for the company, and, indeed, the entire sector, as agencies shift their focus from building their own data centers to evaluating the use of the cloud for their data storage needs, Binko said.

“Right now, from a technology perspective, the federal government is going through the most widespread change since the mid- and late ‘80s,” he said.

“Maryland has a chance to leapfrog states like Virginia and even California and some of the others up in New England and focus on the apps and ops side of doing critical data and process management and analytics via the cloud,” Binko said.

Kloudtrack has developed a program to guide federal agencies through their transitions to the cloud and has also rolled out a platform called ikloud that will allow users to access kloudtrack through mobile devices.

The company has also partnered with large service providers like Cisco that offer kloudtrack as part of their suite of cloud solutions.

“Cloud is an ecosystem play,” Binko said. “You’re not going to get everything you need from kloudtrack, and we realize that. But you’re also not going to get everything you need from IBM anymore, and they’re starting to realize that, too.”