These 6 centers show how Baltimore's biggest employers are integrating tech and innovation - Baltimore


Oct. 21, 2019 11:24 am

These 6 centers show how Baltimore’s biggest employers are integrating tech and innovation

From culinary to manufacturing, Baltimore's corporations and large organizations are standing up innovation centers to work on future products and processes.
The Make48 ticked at the Stanley Black and Decker makerspace in Towson.

The Make48 ticked at the Stanley Black and Decker makerspace in Towson.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The area’s largest employers have reached success because what they make is valuable today, but growth can’t come without an ability to see what will bring change tomorrow.

Often that means applying new technology, and new ways of developing products, to their work. To concentrate that energy, Baltimore’s corporations and larger organizations are creating in-house innovation centers where tech and talent are developing new products and processes.

Taken as a whole, it’s notable that the focus isn’t only on the new technology and the modern spaces. These organizations also want to take to take new approaches to building, whether that means bringing together folks from different disciplines into the centers, or partnering with other organizations to add new capabilities. It’s a reminder that collaboration is a key ingredient in creating something new.

Here’s a look at how some local corporations and orgs are applying new solutions to old challenges via innovation centers:

Johns Hopkins

At the Johns Hopkins Technology Innovation Center, a team of technologists works with clinicians, researchers and entrepreneurs as they seek to bring new digital healthcare solutions that will benefit patients within the medical system. Based in the Rangos Building on the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus, interdisciplinary teams combine UI/UX design, software development and data analytics to this effort. Among the tools it has worked on: EpiWatch, an Apple Watch app designed to track seizures.


The Hunt Valley-based spicemaker is bringing innovation into the kitchen. McCormick’s Culinary Innovation Center, which was opened in 2017, aims to bring technology tools and collaboration to the process of creating new flavors. According to info released on its launch, it has lab equipment and video technology integrated among the kitchen equipment, plus a culinary mixology station. Another focus is partnerships. Earlier this year, McCormick teamed with IBM to add AI to the mix.

McCormick and IBM are adding AI to the recipe for new flavors.

McCormick and IBM are adding AI to the recipe for new flavors. (Courtesy photo)

Stanley Black & Decker

The company, which has a large presence in Towson, is synonymous with tools and hardware. It now has a place that’s open to all employees working on new ideas. As we wrote upon a visit during a Make48” episode filmed there last year:


Opened last year near the hardware company’s Towson tool headquarters, the makerspace provides a place for employees of the tool company to test out new tools, work on prototypes of new ideas and get trained. Shop Manager Audrey Van de Castle showed us some of the tools, such as a laser engraver and CNC plasma cutter.

T. Rowe Price

Located in Linthicum Heights, the Client Experience and Delivery Transformation Lab employs a team of “developers, designers and data scientists are working in teams on “client journeys,” or the interfaces and experiences through which clients interact with the company,” we wrote in a recent article.

A meeting room at T. Rowe Price's Customer Experience & Delivery Transformation Lab. (Courtesy photo)

A meeting room at T. Rowe Price’s Customer Experience & Delivery Transformation Lab. (Courtesy photo)

LifeBridge Health and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

The health systems came together earlier this year as part of an innovation partnership between a payer and provider. At a summit that included a pitch competition featuring digital health startups from around the region, the two teams announced a forthcoming innovation center, and seed fund. As we wrote upon the announcement:

Each partner has a team that works to support new innovation across its organization: LifeBridge has an innovation and research team, while CareFirst’s initiative is Healthworx. Representing both the payer and provider side of healthcare, they convened around mutual interest in exploring new technology and approaches that can help patients, reduce costs, improve care and more.

Under Armour

As the headquarters of Under Armour, Baltimore is home to the apparel brand’s efforts to create and market its products. With the UA Lighthouse in Port Covington’s City Garage, the company is working on how products are made, as well. The goal is manufacturing. From our 2016 piece on the opening:

The giant doors that were thrown open to reveal the space after an intro video Tuesday (and all those folks in white coats) give the whole thing a science-fiction feel. But for Under Armour it all comes back to the very tangible margins of making shirts and shoes. The experts are working on efforts such as reducing the number of people involved in manufacturing the upper [part] of a shoe, or modeling athletes for custom-fitted apparel through imaging.

Most of the projects are kept under wraps, but we’ve seen a few emerge in recent years. The first made-in-Baltimore apparel line, debuted in 2017, was a sports bra and leggings set called Arris.

Kevin Plank speaks outside The UA Lighthouse.

Kevin Plank speaks outside The UA Lighthouse, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Did we miss any local innovation centers? Let us know:


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