The Chesapeake Innovation Center had been in its drab space in Annapolis since its opening in 2003. On Friday, the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (which runs the center) and area officials marked the opening of its new 8,000-square-foot center on Blue River Boulevard in Odenton.
“This location is not actually about the space,” said CIC Executive Director Laura Willoughby. “It’s about what we’ve created for innovators, about what we’ve created for our members.”
The incubator is currently home for IT consultant ITnova and data and cloud solutions startup SixGen. Three companies are affiliate members, and ReXi Wireless is a collaboration hub member. Companies and staffers began working out of the new offices in June.
The new space, in a shopping center with a Weis Markets, Navy Federal Credit Union and several other tenants, includes a training room (which can also be used for events) and other high-tech amenities.
The ribbon-cutting on Friday was followed by a panel on innovation that included local entrepreneurs, Julie Lenzer Kirk from the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
Odenton was chosen in part for its close proximity to the U.S. Army’s Fort Meade and the National Security Agency.
“Believe me, we are the cyber capital of the world, and everybody knows that,” Ruppersberger said.
The 2nd District Democrat serves as ranking member on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and spoke of cyber threats posed by nations like Iran and the impact of leaks from, he said, “that traitor” former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman was a founding board member of the CIC.
“I was a long-time tech entrepreneur and I chose that path because it was a path of opportunity,” Neuman told the crowd. “For me, that was a path that led to a very successful business career.”
She said the original mission of the center was “really to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Anne Arundel County.”
Ed Rothstein, formerly a colonel at Fort Meade, is now the president and CEO of the AAEDC.
The new space, he said, “creates and inspires an atmosphere for the next generation of innovators.”