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From the water to the wind: Meet the companies Maryland sent to Dutch and South African trade expos

The Department of Commerce selected 12 companies from throughout the state to pursue opportunities at both the European Water Technology Week and Africa Aerospace & Defense trade shows.

The cities of Leeuwarden, Netherlands (left) and Pretoria, South Africa. (Photos by Flickr users Hindrik Sijens and South Africa Tourism, used via a Creative Commons license; composite image by
Update: This article has been updated to include the Maryland Department of Commerce's post-publication update about MBA Growth Partners's virtual participation in the Africa Aerospace and Defense delegation, as well as a fuller description of ZanstraSat LLC. (10/21/22, 10:37 a.m.)

A dozen tech and tech-adjacent companies, representing industries as varied as blue tech and medical device manufacturing, were recently recognized by the State of Maryland’s Department of Commerce with participation in delegations heading to major economic centers and expos in the Netherlands and South Africa this week.

The first of these trade shows is European Water Technology Week (EWTW), which started on Monday in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden. Per its name, EWTW is geared toward blue tech (water-economy related tech) and sustainability innovation. Andrew Kreinik, the senior regional manager for Europe at the Department of Commerce’s Office of International Trade and Investment, described the delegation in a prior guest post as a “great chance” to both participate in the constituent Water Tech Europe Trade Expo and “network with European companies, researchers and scientists” working on environmental sustainability solutions.

“The Netherlands possesses one of the most comprehensive sustainability frameworks of any industrialized nation,” he wrote in July. “Every four years, its National Environmental Policy Plan is revised to reflect lessons learned, as well as new challenges and objectives. The trade expo and mission will thus be a great chance for Maryland’s Department of Commerce to help the state’s firms explore business opportunities abroad.”

A more recent state government blog post noted the selected entities’ focus on blue tech, which it identified as “one of Maryland’s emerging industries” and well suited to its tremendous coastline and ongoing Chesapeake Bay preservation efforts.

“Our world-class university systems and community colleges produce leaders in science innovation and highly skilled lab techs, making Maryland an amazing place to get an idea off of the ground,” the post added. “With more than 20 established tech incubators and accelerators ready to support the blue tech sector, you can go from an idea to implementation here on the shores of the Chesapeake.”

The companies selected for this set of opportunities included:

  • Blue Sources, a Frederick-based company offering patented “monitoring-as-a-service” tech that tests water toxicity via the behavior of bluegill fish populations
  • Innovatreat of Owings Mills, which manufactures and develops tech for wastewater treatment
  • GaiaXus, a Bethesda-HQed developer of portable sensors that individuals can use to measure water quality, as well as seamlessly share data with scientists and educators
  • Early Charm Ventures, a company in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood that creates and oversees science innovation-focused ventures
  • Tetrahedron Inc., a company along Baltimore’s Key Highway that offers a mix of environmental surveying, energy testing and IT services

The Department of Commerce was supported in this mission by the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee, whose chair Rachel Sengers told that scheduling conflicts led to only two delegation members — Early Charm Ventures and Tetrahedron — actually sending people to EWTW.

Sengers added that the state delegation would have the chance to visit Rotterdam, another major Dutch city with Europe’s largest seaport, to participate in a networking event and breakout sessions via the Venture Café Rotterdam economic partnership organization. This event will let both Dutch and Maryland entrepreneurs link up over potential business opportunities as part of Maryland’s push to strengthen ties with the Netherlands — a country that, like Maryland, has depended on coastal waterways and plains for much of its economic history.

“The Netherlands is one of the priority countries [from which] Maryland Commerce is trying to get companies to come here to set up shop — and also to collaborate and bring cool, new, innovative technologies to Maryland,” Sengers said. The event will also aim to introduce Dutch companies to Maryland’s soft landing and Global Gateway programs.

According to a department press release, seven other Maryland companies will head this week to the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Tshwane, near South Africa’s executive capital city of Pretoria, for the Africa Aerospace and Defense expo. Taking place between Sept. 21 and 26, the trade fair is billed in a statement as the largest defense-focused trade show on the African continent. The department’s announcement said that Maryland is the only US state participating in the show this year, and it will be sending the following companies as emissaries:

  • Atkinson Aeronautics and Technology, a technical services and operations company with offices in California, Maryland (HQ’d in Fredericksburg, Virginia) that specializes in aviation, electronic warfare, intelligence and cybersecurity
  • AvDyne AeroServices, an aviation maintenance and management provider based in Glen Burnie
  • BC3 Technologies, a Baltimorean medical research company developing products to facilitate quick blood-clotting in medical, military and general use situations
  • Practical Technologies Inc., an electronics manufacturer based out of Middle River
  • Pugh & Tiller PR, a B2B clients-focused public relations firm from Annapolis
  • ZanstraSat LLC, from Columbia, which offers satellite communications and IT services to commercial and government clients

A Department of Commerce spokesperson said that another delegation member – Rockville’s MBA Growth Partners, which provides management consulting and IT assessments, among other services — had to switch to being a virtual attendee at the last minute.

President Dilip Dalvi of Practical Technologies, which a departmental announcement said makes its international trade show debut at Africa Aerospace and Defense, said in a statement that its “primary goal will be to bring more business to Maryland.”

“We’re looking forward to meeting prospective customers,” Dalvi said. “We want to understand their requirements, explain our products, and ultimately try to match the two together.”

Companies: Early Charm / State of Maryland

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