Speaking to a packed room at the Loews Annapolis Hotel on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council and the Tech Council of Maryland are merging.
“Together, these two great organizations will merge to create a more powerful, newly created group called the Maryland Tech Council,” he said, as the new logo (designed with help from Mindgrub) flashed up on the screens flanking the governor.
— Technical.ly Baltimore (@TechnicallyBMR) January 25, 2017
Cheers went up at the event, which included CEOs, tech community leaders from the bio and health worlds as well as software and cybersecurity. Plus, state legislators were in the mix. It’s an annual soiree that TCM puts on called the Maryland Policy & Leadership Dinner.
Held as the General Assembly session is underway, the gathering pointed to what the new organization is hoping to achieve with the merger. As Hogan said, it’s looking to be “more powerful.”
That power comes in part from the numbers. Along with eliminating the need for officials to divide their time talking to multiple organizations, they speak on behalf of more voters in Annapolis.
“With [nearly] 700 tech companies under your belt, people listen to you,” said Tami Howie, the new organization’s CEO. She was named CRTC’s Executive Director in 2015. For the latest move, she drew on experience as an attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions.
Joining forces creates one statewide organization that can speak to legislators as they look to create a more startup-friendly economic environment, vie for dollars and run statewide programming.
“With a merged tech council, it shows that we have a community here. It shows we have one association that has an umbrella organization that makes sure all of the resources are here,” Howie said. “I think you’re going to see companies grow faster. I think you’re going to see more collaboration. I think you’re going to see more people want to be part of that movement.”
That can help create visibility for the state’s tech sector as it competes with other states with other states to bring in companies and dollars (officials may or may not have singled out Virginia on this list).
The 16-employee Maryland Tech Council will be based in Rockville, and have offices in Annapolis. Each organization is contributing about equally as far as member companies. The Rockville-based Tech Council of Maryland was largely focused on life science and biotech companies in Montgomery County and other areas around D.C., with some Baltimore companies. Annapolis-based CRTC had a more general industry focus, and members from the Baltimore area and Howard County.
Howie said there was some overlap in events, but only eight companies were members of both organizations. Along with advocating, the group wants to help members connect and learn.
“There’s so much cross pollination today between app developers into biotech into healthcare into cybersecurity, that it really completes the circle,” said Bytegrid CTO Jason Silva, who will chair the new organization along with Rene LaVigne of Iron Bow Technologies.