The 10 best-read Baltimore tech stories of 2019 - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Dec. 17, 2019 2:10 pm

The 10 best-read Baltimore tech stories of 2019

From drone delivery to Towson U's new community hub, here's a look at the stories you clicked most this year.
A drone delivered a kidney to University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore on April 19.

A drone delivered a kidney to University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore on April 19.

(Photo courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine)

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2019, and the decade along with it.

But the 2010s (and Technical.ly’s 10th anniversary year) had plenty of news before signing off. In Baltimore, a mayor resigned and the moral voice of Congress passed away. A billion-dollar biotech exit made its mark, and we learned that we’ll start 2020 without Under Armour’s founder at the helm.

It all provided plenty to read about. And since we like to look to the data, it’s always interesting to us to run the numbers and pull out the pieces that got the most eyeballs of the last year. Check them out below:

10. A tech giant cuts back

Exits can lead to a big local entrance on the scene for big companies, and that proved out in 2008 after eBay’s acquisition of Bill Me Later led to a longstanding presence of PayPal Credit in Baltimore County. But in June of this year came a contraction, as PayPal announced it would close a pair of Hunt Valley offices and lay off 380 people. It was part of a wider move affecting servicing and collections. Another Timonium office remained open, however, maintaining a presence for the company.

9. Tracking Maryland snow plows with the state’s web app

This one gets reupped just as winter arrives once again in the Bay State. Answering the age-old question of when a street will be plowed with data and maps, the STORM app allows residents to spend a snow day following along with the plow.

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8. A historic building takes a turn to the future

A rendering showing a potential look for Towson University’s new community space at an old armory. (Via Greenberg Gibbons)

Towson University is increasingly making its presence felt in the center of the Baltimore County town. Come next year, it’ll have a front door. The university is transforming the Maryland National Guard Armory into a community hub, including space for entrepreneurship programs like the TU incubator and workforce development. It’s yet another sign that universities have a big role to play in economic development. Around here, they’re increasingly recognizing it.

7. The Yang Gang comes to Baltimore

Andrew Yang in Baltimore. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Back in February, a little-known presidential candidate showed up at Charm City Meadworks with a crowd holding signs that said “Math.” Fast forward 10 months: Andrew Yang is still in the 2020 Democratic primary race, and making debate stages. Just like on that night, he’s still sounding a UBI note to give everyone a $1,000 “tech check” every month.

6. Ridesharing and food access

Lyft had a big year nationally, with its initial public offering. But in some cities, like Baltimore, 2019 was more about access. Among the programs that rolled were a new initiative that’s providing $2.50 rides to grocery stores in South and Southwest Baltimore’s Healthy Food Priority Areas (fka food deserts). It’s also an example of partnerships putting a program together, from the city government to healthcare providers to an economic development group.

5. From schools to job training

Theo in van

Theo Devine of Integrity Delivered. (Courtesy photo)

Theo Devine started “integrity centers” in Baltimore city schools, then got entrepreneurial with the idea, creating jobs with his Integrity Delivered through a partnership with Amazon. “If we can give these young folks an opportunity to come out and make a decent wage, it’s going to take them off the streets and from making poor decisions,” he told Technical.ly intern Karuga Koinange.

4. The biggest Battlebot stars at Baltimore Innovation Week’s Dev Day

man standing next to giant battelbot

Team captain Ricky Willems with Mammoth. (Photo by Karuga Koinange)

It was midweek at BIW19, and inside the Wicomico building, there was room for a special cameo. Mammoth, the largest Battlebot to take to the arena on the popular TV show, made an appearance. It was the largest and likely most violent example of a made-in-Baltimore products on display that day. Stay tuned: The team behind the bot is gearing up for a new version that’s “twice as fast, three times as powerful and 10 times more fire.”

3. The Technical.ly Awards return

Technical.ly Awards and RealLIST Engineers honorees. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

To close out that Wednesday at Baltimore Innovation Week, Technical.ly presented awards in categories that spanned CTO to impact leader. As in past years, there was a groundswell around the piece that unveiled the nominees and provided the public voting portal. Here’s a look at the winners.

2. The more promising startups in Baltimore

To begin the year, Technical.ly’s RealLIST series returned with a roundup of the city’s strongest up-and-coming startups. All year, we tracked these companies as they picked up new funding, employees and clients. We’re already at work on next year’s list, so look out for a way to nominate in early January. Plus, check out the RealLIST Engineers, which spotlighted the people who build and maintain software.

1. Drone delivery of a human organ

Drone delivers kidney. (Courtesy of University of Maryland Medical Center)

The city’s medical institutions have been home to historic feats, and this year brought a new height: Doctors from University of Maryland Medical Center and a group of partners that spanned statewide engineered the flight of a kidney across the city, which was then transplanted into a patient. It made national news, and attracted plenty of attention in town, as well. The long-term view? Changing how organs are delivered in remote areas. This year, it also picked up a Technical.ly Award for Invention of the Year.

It was the highlight of a big year in drone news, from an AI-powered race at the Convention Center to plans for a new flight center on the Eastern Shore.

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