After two years as CEO of TEDCO, George Davis plans to step down from the leadership role at the state’s quasi-public agency that supports early stage tech and life sciences companies.
Davis’ last day will be July 31. According to TEDCO, Davis’ contract expired, and he decided not to renew. Davis is planning to pursue a new opportunity, but further details weren’t available.
“George Davis has provided stellar leadership and vision to TEDCO, and we are grateful for his service,” Francis Smyth, the chairman of TEDCO’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Our Board originally charged George with building on TEDCO’s solid foundation to make TEDCO the central hub for tech entrepreneurs and startups in Maryland. By any measure, George and his team achieved that goal and more. We are sorry to see him go and wish him well in his next endeavor.”
TEDCO has $135 million in assets under management, and was created by the state to support entrepreneurs by providing investment funding and other resources that encourage tech transfer and startup creation in the state. An economic impact study found that its programs support 7,746 Maryland jobs and more than $1.6 billion in statewide economic activity in 2018.
News of Davis’ departure comes as other leaders of the organization have stepped down in recent months. TEDCO President John Wasilisin stepped down in February. This month, Chief Investment Officer and Maryland Venture Fund Managing Director Andy Jones stepped down, as did Maryland Venture Fund Chief Marketing Officer Parag Sheth.
During this year’s Maryland General Assembly session, TEDCO faced scrutiny from legislators following a legislative audit in February that raised concerns associated with the Maryland Venture Fund. These included concerns about policies and procedures being in place to govern investments to ensure that companies were based in the state, after the state audit report found in a test that investments were made in four companies that did not have Maryland as a primary place of business, or remain in the state, as required.
TEDCO leaders pushed back against the findings at the time, saying that follow-on investments made were made to protect the Fund’s initial investment for the state, and designed to support companies with roots in Maryland.
The audit report also said TEDCO lacked policies to prevent conflict of interest on a Maryland Venture Fund advisory committee. The report stated that firms associated with two of three members of an advisory committee to the Maryland Venture Fund, received $21 million. In a response, TEDCO said the firms received money when MVF was under the state’s commerce department, before the advisory committee was formed.
During the session, the General Assembly passed legislation to increase oversight that included rules for a new investment committee that would be formed to approve investments and be governed by specific ethics guidelines. The legislation also lays out that companies who receive investment must be based in the state or have “substantial” economic impact in Maryland.
Davis was hired to lead TEDCO in June 2017, bringing years of experience as an investor and in leadership roles at Baltimore-area companies including Aether Systems, Avatech and Baltimore-based startup Gemstone Biotherapeutics. He set to visiting companies around the state, and arrived at a strategy that would bring more of a venture mindset and streamline how the organization’s programs were presented.
Davis has been a frequent presence at tech events locally, speaking about TEDCO’s mission and the area’s startup ecosystem. He also hasn’t been afraid to talk about what the community needs more of — namely, big wins that can lead to more startups being created, and expanded partnerships with the large companies who are present here.
Under Davis, TEDCO also expanded the Builder Fund, which supports entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. Another set of programs, called Gateway Services, were rolled out to provide increased support outside of investment programs.
“I could not be more proud of what the TEDCO team has accomplished in helping entrepreneurs and startups access industry-leading investment services, training and capital, in addition to protecting and growing Maryland investments,” Davis said in a statement. “I’m especially proud that TEDCO has begun to make unprecedented strides in helping Maryland’s women and minority entrepreneur communities.”
TEDCO said a search for the next CEO is underway, and Davis plans to stay on in a senior advisory role to the board in the next several months as a successor is found.
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