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Maryland Tech Council honors global companies, startups and youth as ICONs

Here’s who won big at the statewide trade association’s 36th annual awards.

MTC CEO Kelly Schulz (far left) and Alexandria Real Estate co-COO Larry Diamond (far right) with seven scholarship recipients at 2024 ICON Awards. (Courtesy Maryland Tech Council)

Leaders, businesses and even students in Maryland’s science and tech sectors received high praise for accomplishments, with applications spanning fields as varied as quantum computing and pharmaceuticals, at a special ceremony last Thursday evening.

The 36th annual ICON Awards, hosted by the Maryland Tech Council, honored several executives and companies throughout the state. Winners came from throughout the state’s main commercial hubs, including the DC suburbs, Baltimore and Frederick.

The awards especially recognize excellence in government contracting and life sciences technology, including biotech and cybersecurity. Both major firms like the global pharma giant AstraZeneca and newer businesses like the Frederick-based nanosensor healthcare company NanoBioFAB walked away with recognition. 

More than 500 people gathered for the ceremonies in North Bethesda, which this year added the Pava LaPere Young Innovator Award to honor the late founder and CEO from Baltimore. That award went to EcoMap Technologies, which LaPere cofounded. 

“Pava possessed the qualities you look for in a great entrepreneur: incredible drive, creativity, and a way of inspiring excellence in those around her,” said Kelly Schulz, the CEO of the organizing statewide trade association. “We believe creating this award will help us remember her incredible gifts and the qualities that made her a beloved person and entrepreneur.”

The ICON Awards also recognized educators and young people for STEM accomplishments. For the latter group, eight students each received $5,000 to support their education at various Maryland public and private universities.

For Schulz, the awards highlight not only the winners but also the community from which they came. 

“When we shine a light on leaders and companies, we set a benchmark for excellence and encourage others to strive for similar achievements,” she said. “I get really proud seeing hundreds of tech and biotech professionals rooting for each other as the winners are announced. We work hard to build a community, and that’s the definition of a strong community.”

When the awards began in 1988, the technology and life sciences sectors were growing in the region, Schulz explained. For example, in that same year, the National Center for Biotechnology Information — a part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a subagency within the National Institutes of Health — opened in Bethesda. It houses different information systems including GenBank, a DNA sequence database. 

“Our organization believed that creating annual awards was one way to showcase our local ecosystem’s achievements and foster a stronger community,” Schulz said. 

Each year, the trade association calls for nominations from January until March, and Maryland Tech Council members are selected to serve as judges. The judges review the nominations, which includes interviewing the nominees, before voting on the winners of each category.

Below are the winners of this year’s ICON Awards:

  • Chief Executive Officer of the Year – Government Contracting: Delali Dzirasa, Fearless

  • Chief Executive Officer of the Year – Life Sciences: Benjamin Holmes, Nanochon
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Year – Technology: Andrew Coy, Digital Harbor Foundation
  • Emerging Life Sciences Company of the Year: RoosterBio
  • Emerging Technology Company of the Year: NanoBioFAB

  • Government Contracting Company of the Year: N4 Solutions, LLC
  • Life Science Company of the Year: AstraZeneca

  • Technology Company of the Year: IonQ
  • Deal of the Year: RealmOne
  • C-Suite: Jesse Damsker, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, ReveraGen BioPharma
  • Pava LaPere Young Innovator Award: EcoMap Technologies

  • CEO Icon Award: Quantum Loophole
  • Venture Mentoring Services Mentor of the Year: Doug Holly
  • Venture Mentoring Services Venture of the Year: Solaxa
  • STEM Educators of the Year Award: Anthony J. Calise, Owings Mills High School (Baltimore County) and Liliia Khmarskaia, James M. Bennett High School (Wicomico County)
  • Alexandria Real Estate STEM Scholarship Winners:
    • Andy Ying, biomedical engineering, school to be determined
    • Anne Victoria Sefen, biomedical engineering, school to be determined
    • Jehan Idassi, neuroscience/pre-med, Johns Hopkins University
    • Joey Piper Mullenax, health sciences, Frostburg State University
    • Nicholas Angel, biomedical engineering, Stevenson University
    • Nicholas Dang Hoang Tran, computer engineering, school to be determined
    • Oluwatoyin Blessing Olaniyi, computer sciences, school to be determined
    • Samragyee Dhakal, computer engineering, University Of Maryland, College Park

This article mentions Fearless, a client. That relationship had no impact on this report.

Update: This article has been updated to include new responses from Maryland Tech Council CEO Kelly Schulz. (5/28/2024, 8:30 p.m,) 

Companies: EcoMap Technologies / IonQ / Fearless / Maryland Tech Council / Johns Hopkins University / University of Maryland, College Park / AstraZeneca

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