Big players step in: No. 2 Baltimore tech trend of 2015 - Baltimore


Dec. 23, 2015 11:46 am

Big players step in: No. 2 Baltimore tech trend of 2015

From Kevin Plank to Johns Hopkins to Black & Decker, the local tech community added some deep pockets this year.

More than 1,000 people attended the inaugural Beta City.

(Photo by Brian James Kirk)

Beyond individual stories, a tech community is defined by how its component parts work together. So, to look back at 2015, we’re unpacking 10 themes that kept popping up with big headlines all year long. See the full list of 2015 trends here.

When big anchor companies and institutions want to do something, they have enough money to do it big. As it becomes more obvious that tech communities are key to the survival of cities like Baltimore, we’re only seeing more involvement from those big players.

Johns Hopkins started the year by opening a new incubator with FastForward East at its medical campus, announcing that startups were a big part of officials’ plan — both in development and organization. Meanwhile, Under Armour was wrapping up a trio of fitness app acquisitions with an eye toward a connected fitness platform. Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, who is an entrepreneur and innovator to the core, also got more generous with his angel investments, and announced plans to turn vacant land in Port Covington into a haven for the creative class. He also reserved space for innovation at City Garage. I mean, toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker sponsored the Baltimore Hackathon, and got added to SmartLogic’s client list.

This cross-pollination was equally on view at events. At Beta City, we got to see what it looks like when entrepreneurs, investors, businesspeople and politicians end up in one place. And b2Bmore gave the startups face-time with the corporations.

Undergirding these connections is a big-tent approach that also involves existing community leaders being on board. Betamore, which was a primary organizer of Beta City, reorganized as a nonprofit with a goal of knitting together entrepreneurs — whether they’re at big companies or recently-founded startups.

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Companies: Under Armour
People: Kevin Plank
Projects: Beta City
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