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Maryland’s JHU APL, Sonatype among Fast Company’s ‘best workplaces for innovators’

The Howard County organizations are among companies that the national business media brand says support all employees in thinking big and creating new products.

A pair of Maryland tech shops earned a spot on a Fast Company (FC) list that looks to spotlight companies and organizations that are ideal for innovation.

Fast Company, the nationwide business media brand, teamed with Accenture on its first “50 Best Workplaces for Innovators” list, which was released Monday.

“For Fast Company‘s inaugural Best Workplaces for Innovators list, we set out to find companies that empower all employees—not just top executives, scientists, or coders—to create new products, improve operations, and take risks. We searched for businesses where innovation isn’t just a buzzword but a part of the value system and culture,” Fast Company writes.

Maryland’s two entries on the list are a pair of sizable tech employers in Howard County.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL), the Laurel-based research center that was established in 1942 to provide U.S. government agencies with technical expertise, made the list with FC taking note of the 419 new inventions and 30 new patents produced last year.

The associates and fellows have “24/7 access to 3D printing, a VR/AR room, and an electronics workbench; a centralized database keeps researchers abreast of new developments in other labs,” Fast Company says.

APL employs about 6,000 people. Some of the work we’ve covered includes new space missions (lots of space missions), autonomous vehicles and brain-powered prosthetics.

“We are honored that this award recognizes our lab-wide culture of experimentation and commitment to collaboration,” APL Director Ralph Semmel said in a statement. “The lab promotes exploration and bold thinking by all of our staff members—and we have seen this lead to previously unimaginable solutions to a number of the nation’s most complex national security, space exploration, and health challenges.”

Sonatype, based in Fulton, makes tools to help software developers use open source code, and ensure it’s secure. The 11-year-old company is led by Wayne Jackson, who previously served as CEO at Sourcefire and Riverbed Technologies.

Fast Company notes that Sonatype holds innovation days every other week, where employees have a chance to explore. It was the result of work on 511 projects last year.

Sonatype also made news with a notable metric, raising an $80 million funding round that leaders said would fuel expansion.

From outside of Maryland, the Fast Company list also includes orgs like Amazon, Salesforce, Procter & Gamble, Mozilla, Duolingo and Chobani.

Companies: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

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