“Working at Johns Hopkins and then at Osiris Therapeutics, I learned first-hand of the tremendous practical impacts of scientific discoveries,” Mackay said in a statement. “I hope to spot early stage Maryland companies that combine promising technology with clear, achievable plans for bringing their innovations to market.”
Within the InvestMaryland program, Mackay will focus on channeling funding toward the state’s most innovative and promising life sciences companies. His extensive industry experience stretches from the lab to the board room.
According to the president’s statement in the East Room of the White House:
Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He is the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse. He went on to become the first lawyer in his family. So his story reminds us of this country’s promise, that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is — you can make it if you try.
And Tom has made protecting that promise — for everybody — the cause of his life. As a civil rights attorney, an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy, a member of the Montgomery, Maryland County Council, Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead.
And this is not the first time that he’s chosen to be a labor secretary, either. We’ve got here today Governor Martin O’Malley, and Martin appointed Tom as Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, where he helped implement the country’s first statewide living-wage law, because he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on.
Find the full statement, including Perez’s acceptance of the nomination, here.
“Insane,” is the word Jen used to describe the transition from Baltimore back to Timonium where they’ve opened a new shop at 2046 York Rd.
“It’s been about about six weeks of just non-stop seven-days-a-week, moving our entire operation from downtown to back here,” Ben said, taking a time out from mixing batches of chocolates.
But a promise is a promise to the Hausers. The couple, residents of northern Baltimore County, informed their loyal customers that they were trying frantically to open ahead of the busiest chocolate day of the year—Valentine’s Day.
One of the speakers we’ll be sure to catch is Shaquille Brooks. From the TEDx Baltimore speaker’s bios:
Shaquille Brooks is a Baltimore City student at Digital Harbor High School. He serves as the Secretary for the Student Government at Digital Harbor, as well as being a member of the Associated Student Congress of Baltimore City. He has also been an advisor for the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. Shaquille is actively involved with the Digital Harbor Foundation, where he continues to develop his technical skills.
If you’re thinking of going, time’s running out. TEDx Baltimore is tomorrow. (And, full disclosure, DBED is a sponsor)
Digit All Systems is committed to bridging the digital divide by equipping underserved and underprivileged students with IT career skills. All courses prepare students for professional certification tests and more advance courses. Incredible success rate in terms of both certification rates and employment outcomes, many of their students now teaching at City schools, replicating Digit All’s process.
If you’re thinking of going, better get to it. TEDx Baltimore is tomorrow. (And, full disclosure, DBED is a sponsor)
TEDx Baltimore is this week — on Friday — and a few tickets are still available (with a $10 discount if you use the code COMMUNITY2013 at checkout).
One of the speakers we’re really looking forward to hearing from is Noor Siddiqui, a young woman with Ivy League written all over her qualifications. And yet she decided to opt out of college and leap full-time into the world:
After graduating from high school, she set aside her university acceptance letters and opted for the Thiel Fellowship. The Thiel Fellowship grants 20 entrepreneurs under 20, $100,000 to move to Silicon Valley and pursue ‘game-changing’ entrepreneurial ventures. Noor is working on building a more inclusive world by harnessing untapped productive energy at the base of the pyramid.
Should be an inspiring talk.
Hurry. TEDx Baltimore is in just two days. (And, full disclosure, DBED is a sponsor)
The 30 Gen-Yers on our list are innovators, advocates, thought-leaders and reformers. Through outreach initiatives and engineering they’re committed, like my mom, to giving kids everywhere the best chance at success. They’re committed to making the lives of teachers like her just a little bit easier, whether through technology that saves them precious minutes communicating with parents or helps them use data analytics to track performance more efficiently than traditional paper grade books ever could.
2U, which until October had been called 2tor, is a pioneer in offering for-credit graduate level coursework, beginning with master’s degrees from the likes of the University of Southern California and Georgetown. The company, which Johnson cofounded with Princeton Review founder John Katzman and former Hooked on Phonics CEO Chip Paucek, has raised $96 million in venture capital and recently announced its first ever undergraduate courses offered by a consortium of top-tier universities including Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. “Our goal is to find a way to create online experiences that have the same student outcomes, the same level of quality as on campus at the best schools in the world,” says Johnson. “To do that requires actual interaction with professors, small group classes, and real admission standards.” 2tor’s clever business model involves a tuition share with the participating universities. Details? Top-secret.
The cabinets, armoires, dining room tables, side tables, ottomans, lounge chairs, sconces, sofas and settees in various stages of assembly in the converted strip mall tucked beside Interstate 97 in Millersville are all descendants of a single chandelier that found its way to Memphis in 1978.
Eleanor McKay and her husband, Joe Niermann, were museum curators. A nonprofit from New Orleans asked them to restore a chandelier. Instead of cash, McKay and Niermann received permission to reproduce the piece.
It became the first product sold by Niermann Weeks, a “museum-quality” furniture and lighting design and manufacturing outfit that has since made its home in Anne Arundel County.
Over the last 34 years, the catalog has grown to about 500 standard designs and an infinite combinations and customizations.
“We created this business as a way to create museum-quality lighting and furnishings that people can have in their own homes without worrying about the immense cost or the fragility of an original,” said McKay, the CEO of Niermann Weeks.
The company moved to Maryland in 1994 and has supplied furnishings for movie stars, business titans in New York and political heavyweights in Washington D.C. Niermann Weeks made a pair of night tables for the Clintons to use in the White House and decorated them with the presidential seal and alto and tenor saxophones for the sax-playing commander in chief.
The sweet spot for Niermann Weeks the 18th Century, but designs dreamed up by the daughters of Niermann and McKay — Eleanor and Claire Niermann — have a more modern look.
The business exploits an inescapable truth of the high-end furniture world — there just aren’t enough antiques to go around.
Joe Niermann, in addition to his curating duties, spent time as an antiques buyer, McKay said.
“At that period, you could still buy 18th Century antiques,” she said. “They were not yet so abnormally expensive that you wouldn’t use them. The 18th Century didn’t produce enough stuff for all of us in the 20th and 21st centuries to use. All those [antiques] are in museums or private collections. Companies like ours create something where you’ve got the look without the expense and without the fear.”
The Niermann Weeks products are all handmade. The metal components come from a subcontractor in Upper Marlboro and everything else, the woodworking, upholstery, painting, finishing and nearly ubiquitous strands of crystals and beads draped from the arms of Niermann Weeks chandeliers, is done by the 40 employees in Millersville.
McKay said the company ships about 60 products a week.
The company’s strength remains in its lighting fixtures, the families of chandeliers and sconces that still include the design that launched Niermann Weeks more than three decades ago.
“It’s still a significant seller for us,” McKay said. “That showed us that you don’t have to work for other people and you don’t have to be a curator. You can make things that look like they should be curated, but they don’t have to be.”
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.”
John and Tom Knorr have been on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for 16 years. They started with one restaurant — The Red Roost — and added others over the years. Now, the centerpiece of their operation is in Maryland, too.
Owners Tom (left) and John (right) Knorr outside the new home of Evolution Craft Brewery Co. in Salisbury.
Evolution Craft Brewery Co. moved to the state in April, settling into a 30,000-square-foot building in Salisbury after uprooting from a space one-tenth the size in nearby Delmar, Del.
“We’ve driven by this building for years,” John Knorr said, standing outside of the brewery’s tasting room on Tuesday. “It was an abandoned ice factory. It turned out one of our friends owned it and was trying to sell it.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley and other state officials, including DBED Secretary Christian Johansson, visited Evolution Tuesday for a tour and a taste on Tuesday.
O’Malley lauded the success of the Knorr brothers, who own five restaurants locally — as well as a French bistro in Guatemala — and the brewery. They employ 350 people in the area and plan to add 10 to the brewery’s staff of 51 this year.
“These guys had the vision, these took the chance, these guys risked their own dollars on investing in Maryland,” the governor said. “We were there to help them with partnership, with people helping at every level.”
The extra space came just in time.
Evolution, or EVO for short, brewed 4,000 barrels, or about 124,000 gallons of beer last year. Tom Knorr said they expect to do about 7,000 this year and, if all goes right, 10,000 to 12,000 in 2013.
“It could be more,” he said.
For now, the Knorr brothers said every case of Evolution is already sold, even before it’s made. They’re working on expanding their reach into more of Pennsylvania and Virginia while keeping suppliers in Maryland well stocked.
Evolution is part of a growing cohort of small craft breweries that every year are taking a larger share of the American beer market. According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewer industry group, craft brewers sold 11.46 million barrels of beer in 2011. That was an increase of 15 percent over 2010 even as overall beer sales were down 1.3 percent that year.
Evolution’s portfolio includes five main beers, including Primal Pale Ale, Exile ESB, Lucky 7 Porter, Rise up Stout and the top-selling Lot #3 India Pale Ale.
“People just really, really like our beers,” Tom Knorr said. “That’s how we’ve grown it, is grass roots.”
Seven-year-old biotech firm Lentigen has found an unlikely ally in its effort to best some of the most debilitating diseases, viruses and genetic disorders.
The Gaithersburg company is using viruses to manufacture and deliver what it hopes are life-saving vaccines and therapies to patients suffering from AIDS, brain cancer and a host of other maladies.
“Think about this as a disruptive technology,” said Tim Ravenscroft, Lentigen’s CEO. “We’re not looking here at incremental improvements for patients. We’re looking at disease cures and really transforming a lot of these diseases for patients. This is not like a slight improvement on an existing therapy. We’re trying to really transform the way patients are managed.”
The key to Lentigen’s approach is lentiviral vectors, viruses that the company cooks up from scratch to accomplish their goals.
These lentiviruses are a subset of retroviruses, which hijack cells and splice in segments of DNA to force the captive cells to reproduce the virus.
“What these viruses biologically were designed to do, or evolved to do, is to enter cells and take over their genetic machinery to produce more of themselves,” Ravenscroft said. “We’ve modified that ability so that they now do what we want them to do.”
Diseases caused by single gene defects are great targets for Lentigen’s technology, Ravenscroft said.
The company is working on a therapy for hemophilia A. The genetic blood disorder leaves victims without enough of a protein essential to clotting and is treated now with regular injections to make up for the deficiency.
Lentigen’s therapy calls for stem cells to be extracted from a patient. The cells are exposed to a lentivirus of the company’s design that enters the cells and inserts DNA that will allow the cells to produce the missing protein. The stem cells are then returned to the patient who, the company hopes, will be able to produce the protein on his own.
That treatment is third in Lentigen’s therapy pipeline.
Ahead of it are a stem cell therapy for brain cancer patients and a T-cell therapy for melanoma.
Lentigen is also working on vaccine development using its lentiviruses to produce “shells” of viruses that can induce immune responses.
“This is the closest you can get to an actual infection without causing one,” Ravenscroft said.
Lentigen is moving toward an animal trial for its preventative vaccine targeting HIV/AIDS — HIV itself is a lentivirus — and is also working on a therapeutic hepatitis C vaccine.
Furthest along the pipeline is an H5N1 pandemic influenza vaccine, which Ravenscroft hopes is more effective and easier to produce than current vaccines grown in chicken eggs.
“One of the big issues with influenza is you’ve got to be able to produce the vaccine pretty fast for the next vaccine season,” he said. “Currently with the hens eggs production cycle it’s a guessing game at the beginning of the manufacturing year as to which of the strains will be prevalent. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we don’t get it right.”
Lentigen and its 24 employees are honing the company’s manufacturing capabilities.
The company has used its lentiviruses to produce diagnostic antibodies for the U.S. Army and hopes the method, which Ravenscroft said is faster and less costly than traditional options, will make Lentigen’s technology attractive to developing nations hoping to establish manufacturing operations of their own.
“It’s a field where, many years ago, the academic community got interested in this space using different vector systems,” Ravenscroft said. “They weren’t working particularly well. They were having some safety issues. With the redesign we’ve done here and other places, it’s really brought them back to life again.”