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Maryland’s Dept. of Commerce expanded its international ties with an MOU

This agreement is an extension of an MOU from 2016. This time, leadership will focus on cyber, quantum and life sciences.

Secretary of Commerce Kevin Anderson (center) and Innovation Quarter Director Chris van Voorden (second from right) sign the MOU extension aboard the Stad Amsterdam. (Courtesy photo)

Maryland tech and life science companies have a larger potential worldwide reach than ever before, thanks to a recently inked agreement that quickly followed another of the state’s new international initiatives.

Last week, Maryland’s Department of Commerce renewed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Netherlands’ InnovationQuarter, the economic development agency for the region of South Holland. The MOU aims to support economic development and collaboration in innovation for both entities.

With this renewal, the department now leverages the partnership to focus on cybersecurity, quantum computing and life sciences. But Andrew Kreinik, senior regional manager at the Maryland Department of Commerce, said that throughout the events surrounding the renewal, leadership had discovered even more avenues for collaboration. He pointed to aerospace and aviation, environmental tech (the Netherlands has been experiencing rising sea levels for centuries) and agricultural tech (both prioritize eliminating food deserts). Maryland and the Netherlands also each possess major international shipping facilities: the Ports of Baltimore and Rotterdam, respectively. Overall, Kreinik thinks that both entities can learn a lot from each other.

“They have a lot of technologies where they’re ahead and we have technologies where we’re very ahead and we’re trying to see where we can go cooperate,” Kreinik told Technical.ly

One field in which Maryland definitely excels is quantum computing and research. Kreinik described the state as the global leader in the quantum industry; for instance, College Park’s IonQ has been a groundbreaking quantum company, and nearby DC hosted the first-ever Quantum World Congress last year. Meanwhile, Kreinik said the Dutch invested about €620 million into quantum research and development.

“It’s exchange cooperation because doing quantum just by yourself, one entity, it doesn’t work,” he said. “You need somebody’s input to it.”

With cyber, he hopes that the pair can collaborate on defense and infrastructure protection, as well as how to protect potential targets from hacking. For life sciences, he noted that both Maryland and the Netherlands boast particular momentum in gene therapies and vaccine development. Kreinik additionally believes that the Dutch have strong capabilities in developing consensus in their economy, something he thinks the US could learn from.

Maryland first signed an MOU with the Netherlands in 2016. Kreinik, who last year authored a Technical.ly guest post seeking companies for a delegation to the Netherlands-based 2022 Water Tech Europe Trade Expo, said that the European country is now one of Maryland’s largest trading partners. That initial MOU was an important jumpstart to the Maryland Global Gateway initiative, and what began as a small pilot project developed into a soft landing program for international companies.

The Maryland Department of Commerce currently has 18 centers around the world. Often, Kreinik said, international companies seek partnerships with the US and immediately think of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, only to realize that it’s expensive and short on workers. So, through programs like these, he wants to show what a viable option Maryland is.

“These companies are wanting to go global,” he said. “So we’re trying to attract their companies with these technologies to move to Maryland.”

The agreement with the Dutch comes hot on the heels of the Department of Commerce and the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore striking an agreement with L Marks, a corporate innovation-focused entity with a presence in the UK, to form the Maryland Innovation Lab. This initiative will match Maryland companies with global tech firms in the hopes of boosting innovation throughout the state.

Chris van Voorden, the InnovationQuarter’s head of internationalization who signed the renewed MOU with Maryland Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson, said that partnerships like these are key for growth in tech.

“Our partnership with Maryland underscores the critical role of tech talent and the startup and scale-up scene in driving innovation and growth in important sectors such as cybersecurity, quantum computing and life sciences in the Greater Rotterdam-The Hague area,” said van Voorden in an announcement. “By joining forces, we can leverage our strengths and continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Companies: State of Maryland

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