(Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ken Lund, used under Creative Commons license)
With its startup incubator closing, Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. announced a new initiative to provide resources for cybersecurity startups last week.
The Chesapeake Innovation Center in Odenton closed on July 1 following a March announcement by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh that the incubator would be defunded in the 2017 budget. In a March 1 letter announcing the closure, Schuch wrote that the incubator was “not sustainable,” having received $130,000 equity in return after $11 million in public and private funds invested. The CIC opened in 2003, and moved to Odenton in 2014 to be closer to Fort Meade.
The incubator provided space for member startups, as well as programming and events. The Capital Gazzette reported that startup founders sought to encourage County officials to keep the incubator open at a March hearing. Among those calling for the incubator to remain open were Ethan Dietrich, who said CIC helped him grow his cybersecurity company SixGen since joining in 2014. At the hearing, he said closing the incubator would cost businesses $42,000 for the incubator’s services.
The incubator had nearly 20 member companies when the announcement was made. AAEDC Vice President of Communications Rosa Cruz said more than half are remaining located within Anne Arundel County.
AAEDC has a new program targeting to help cybersecurity companies growing around Fort Meade. The Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox has funding, and offers access to a County workforce training grant, and access to experts in field like intellectual property and marketing.
The program includes a fund that will offer loans of $50,000-$250,000 to companies with less than 100 employees. Cruz said the program is designed for companies who are gaining initial traction after bootstrapping or getting friends and family investment, and seeking funding to keep growing.
AAEDC hired Sarah Purdum, who previously worked with cyber companies at bwtech@UMBC, as Business Development Associate to coordinate the program. She said the goal is to use up the allocation provided to fund companies.