This editorial article is a part of Tech + Health Month of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by the Chesapeake Digital Health Exchange. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by CDHX before publication.
The digital health sector was growing rapidly. Then the pandemic came.
In this case, it was a story of growth.
Following distancing requirements and loosening regulations, telemedicine became the name of the game for many healthcare systems across the nation. It was an area where Baltimore startups could add value, whether it was the “digital front door” of b.well Connected Health or Tissue Analytics‘ work with healthcare institutions to remotely monitor woundcare patients.
Now, healthcare leaders are learning from the shifts of 2020, and planning for how they’ll keep the useful technology that was implemented during the pandemic in place. Going forward, hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers will keep seeking out ways to modernize systems, and adopt new methods of care. So it’s a good bet that entrepreneurs will be building tools to help them.
In Baltimore, entrepreneurs will find an existing network of resources for healthcare-focused startups that are growing around the city’s university-focused healthcare institutions. It has helped to nurture new software and data-powered tools under the umbrella of digital health. There are also resources focused on the hardware that goes into medical devices, and the diagnostics and therapeutics that help to detect and prevent disease.
Drawing on nearly a decade of Technical.ly’s reporting in the city, we’ve compiled a look at resources for startups looking to break in at the intersection of health and tech:
These monthly health tech-centered Zoom sessions are a great way to meet those further along in the entrepenuer journey, whether it’s featured panelists or other attendees.
The next event is on Oct. 20 at 5 p.m., and will be led by Kelliann Wachrathit. She will share her unique perspectives from integrating her background in bioengineering, regulatory research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, regulatory consulting, assessing intellectual property and nursing.
An initiative of the John Hopkins Technology Innovation Center, this network is raising a flag for digital health throughout the region. It’s connecting key players, building a knowledge base, directly supporting young ventures and investing in the talent pipeline with CEO roundtable events, innovation labs and workshops. It is funded by a a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration,
Coming up in November, Chesapeake DHX is organizing a five-day innovation lab on cancer data with cancer researchers, biologists and imaging scientists.
Alongside joining the Maryland Business Innovation Association itself, entrepreneurs were given the opportunity in 2021 to participate in the challenge and work with companies from the local corporate community, like CareFirst innovation arm Healthworx, on problem-solving. It offered a chance to create new professional relationships while testing product solutions on the market.
Organized jointly by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, this event series gathers local entrepreneurs and investors regularly to learn about all of the resources the city can provide, and offer networking. The next event is set for October 21, and centers around building equitech in Baltimore with accelerator network Techstars and local ecosystem builder Upsurge Baltimore as the featured organizations.
Technical.ly (hi!) has an online community providing space for technologists and entrepreneurs across the cities we cover, including Baltimore, DC, Philly, Delaware and Pittsburgh. In the Slack, you’ll not only get to connect with fellow entrepreneurs but get an opportunity to contribute to reporting engaging with the Technical.ly community.
Incubators, accelerators and startup spaces
This recently-launched incubator from LifeBridge Health and Carefirst’s Healthworx is seeking companies that are beyond the idea stage, with a full-time team, a product or model that solves a key healthcare challenge and traction like an MVP, early customers or financing. The program offers investment of up to $100,000 for each selected company, with each partner contributing up to $50,000. It’s currently in the midst of its first cohort.
This Loyola University Marlyand program accepts applications from companies across Baltimore, which can include healthcare-focused startups. It offers a chance to connect with mentors, partake in programming to build a business, and grow a network in Baltimore.
ETC (Emerging Technology Centers) opened the city’s first seed accelerator program in 2012. With support from the Abell Foundation, it has supported a variety of companies since, including plenty building healthcare technology.
Applications are currently open for this accelerator through December 5. The program is looking for five startups that want to solve some of the city’s most pressing challenges. Businesses that are chosen for the 13 week program receive $50,000 in seed funding.
With a focus on medical device manufacturing, the medtech venture center inside Port Covington’s City Garage doubles as a coworking space and incubator to guide companies from start to launch. Led by longtime Maryland healthcare ecosystem leader Bob Storey, it has emerged as a base for companies that are ready to exit the incubator, and move into production.
Drawing on a model built at the National Science Foundation, I-Corps is designed to help scientists and engineers as they move from a discovery to a company. The multi-week program offers a chance to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and gain skills in entrepreneurship through training in customer discovery and guidance from established entrepreneurs. It’s offered at no cost, and provides a $2,880 grant to participants that complete the program. Upcoming sessions are expected to start October 28, January 2022 and April 2022.
Located downtown on West Pratt Street, this startup studio supports medical device inventors who want to move their ideas beyond the lab into the marketplace. Entrepreneurs that work with the studio can expect a lot of hands-on development from the organization as they take an idea to minimum viable product with the studio’s internal team of surgeons, neurologists and engineers. Think of it as a place that helps build startups by loaning a team of employees that are experts in their field.
Billing iself as Maryland’s only hospital-based bioincubator, the Sinai Hospital facility offers lab space for growing startups, with the added benefit of being connected to resources and the network of LifeBridge Health.
Located at the university’s hospital campus in East Baltimore, this space has both offices and wet labs for early-stage companies. Opened in 2017, it has become a nexys of activity for emerging local companies in life sciences and digital health.
Located across from the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus west of downtown Baltimore, the 14-acre biomedical research park is home to a cluster of companies working on new products in various areas of healthcare. It has served as a home both for companies that grow out of work in the city, or others looking to open an office in Baltimore. In 2017, UMB added to its offerngs by opening its innovation hub, called The Grid, to serve as a connecting point for entrepreneurs and the community on campus.
The Pigtown-based venture studio works with researchers to start new companies that commercialize discoveries inside the state’s institutions. Among many companies in its portfolio are a pair of ventures focused on computer-aided drug design. The company opened production space in Pigtown last year.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design offers master’s level training and a chance to explore where healthcare needs solutions. Students work side-by-side with clinicians to understand problems and develop ideas to solve them. It has resulted in the launch of many new startups that called Baltimore home, such as the aforementioned Tissue Analytics.
The Rockville-based organization has long had a statewide presence growing the work that turns discoveries made in the lab into the key technologies that power commercial companies. It connects the community through events, as well as assisting inventors with promising IP as they connect with investors and other key resources.
This searchable AI-powered site to aims to connect the state ecosystem with info on the many accelerators, incubators, funds and mentors that startup founders can turn to for support. In 2021,TEDCO, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the University System of Maryland teamed up to launch this resource, which was built by Baltimore-based EcoMap Technologies.
Baltimore is part of the DMV-wide chapter for this group bringing women in the BioHealth Capital Region together. It has regular events, a mentoring group and more.
The life sciences-focused arm of the Maryland Tech Council, this trade group has a host of activities connecting companies among its membership, and works on advocacy efforts to advance the industry. It also stages 20 events during the year, like the recently-completed Bio Innovation Conference.
Dubbed “America’s seed fund,” the federal government provides non-dilutive research and development grants to companies working to commercialize technologies. The program has been a prime source for early funding at many Maryland startups working in healthcare. Maryland’s TEDCO and Rockville-based OST Global Solutions host an SBIR Proposal Lab to help companies prepare an application.
The state-backed agency is an active funder of early-stage healthcare ventures through a variety of its funds. The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund provides grants and loans for research work. The Maryland Innovation Initiative funds efforts to commercialize technology coming from the state’s universities. For companies ready for venture capital, TEDCO also operates pre-seed, seed and venture funds.
Early-stage businesses seek venture funding to grow. Drawing from a Technical.ly article that listed 75+ venture capital firms in the DMV area, here are local firms that seek to fund healthcare-focused tech companies:
- Abell Foundation: The Baltimore-based foundation has a portfolio of direct investments with a primary focus on creating jobs in Baltimore that includes many healthcare-focused companies.
- ABS Capital: The Baltimore investment firm invests in early and late-stage ventures.
- Blue Heron Capital: The Richmond-based growth equity firm counts healthcare companies among its focus areas.
- Boulder Ventures: The Chevy Chase-based venture capital firm invests in biotech and IT companies at the early and growth stage
- Camden Partners: The Baltimore-based firm funds early, late and seed stage ventures.
- Catalio Capital Management: Born in Baltimore, the firm invests in biomedical technologies, drawing on a network of entrepreneurs and inventors.
- Edison Partners: Health IT is among the focus areas for this McLean, Virginia venture capital firm.
- Epidarex Capital: The Bethesda-based firm invests in early-stage life sciences and health technology companies.
- International Finance Corporation: The DC firm has digital health among a group of priority sectors for investment in early and late-stage ventures.
- Maryland Momentum Fund: The venture fund of the University System of Maryland makes pre-seed and seed investments in companies that are affilated with one of the system’s instutitions.
- NaviMed Capital: The Rosslyn, Virginia-based firm is focused on growth-stage investing in healthcare companies.
- New Atlantic Ventures: Among a host of sectors, the Reston, Virginia-based firm invests in healthcare tech and health IT in the early and seed stages.
- NextGen Venture Partners: The Baltimore-based firm counts healthcare among its focus areas for early and seed-stage investing.
- UM Ventures: The University of Maryland venture arm supports commercialization of companies arising from research at its Baltimore and College Park campuses through investment and other resources.
- Vital Venture Capital: The DC-based firm invests in B2B SaaS software, medical devices, and diagnostics.
Open source software
An open source server for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources also known as FHIR (pronounced fire) which is the server patients use to access records. The Annapolis Junction-based company’s technology won the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Secure FHIR Server Challenge because of its focus on security measure and design to accommodate multiple types of systems.
PHP is an open source scripting language for web development that offers easy data integration. If you’re worried about viability, major companies like Facebook, Slack and Lyft use it in their tech stack. But any coding language is just as good it just depends on where your company is specializing to release it’s client. If IOS user is your goal may be Swift is the way to go
This cross-platform video editing platform comes in handy. In the digital age, you need to be able to engage on multiple platforms and video is the perfect way to garner interests. The main benefit of this software is it’s free. If you’re early stage with little funding but trying to add video elements to a pitch deck or product showcase, this might be the software for you.
Who’d we miss? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
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