What’s the best way to gauge tech’s impact on the local economy? There are plenty of indicators that we turn to, but one of the most visible remains offices.
A company’s work space gives it a physical address and its team a home. And when it’s growing, there’s no splashier sign than a new office opening. So we often cover plenty of office moves, and this year was no different.
Following up on last week’s overview of the area’s coworking spaces, here’s a look at the some of the biggest office news from local tech companies of 2019:
They opened their own building …
Baltimore’s biggest exit of the year also had a big space-oriented story attached. In April, Paragon BioServices opened a facility near BWI Airport. The company remained headquartered at the University of Maryland BioPark, but added a new 151,000-square-foot manufacturing and development facility for biopharmaceuticals. The next week, the company announced it was being acquired by Catalent for $1.2 billion.
Another one of the biggest openings we attended all year came at Barcoding, Inc.’s new office in Highlandtown. The former garment factory is now home to the supply chain automation company’s headquarters, complete with historic steam engine.
The late-October ceremony also brought one of our favorite quotes of the year from company president Shane Snyder:
“If you want to make a difference in a city, live in it and work in it.”
They got bigger, and moved closer to the water …
With lots of hiring over the past few years, Protenus was ready for a new office in 2019. By May, the healthcare analytics firm was settled into a new space overlooking the harbor in Fells Point. The Browns Wharf space remains one of the only local tech offices where we’ve seen hammocks.
They made a space their own as they grew …
Downtown digital services firm Fearless opened a new office inside Spark Baltimore in the spring, marking the culmination of a series of expansions at the Power Plant LIVE! hub. A full floor offered a chance to create some unique spaces, including a calf room for kids.
They grew from the hubs …
In particular, Johns Hopkins’ FastForward 1812 had a couple of notable moves from its innovation hub on the university’s hospital campus in East Baltimore.
emocha moved into offices of its own in Mount Vernon, where it now has 5,000 square feet to house a growing team that’s working on bringing mobile video tools to medication adherence. The company’s work is also extending locally through a partnership with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions.
Over in Port Covington, the Launchport@City Garage continued to emerge as a home for medical device companies seeking a mix of manufacturing and office space. After working at FastForward 1812, synthetic tissue and reconstructive medicine maker LifeSprout moved in as it looked to scale-up.
Meanwhile, University of Maryland, Baltimore-founded CoapTech moved into LaunchPort ahead of getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
Launchport and FastForward were also bases for Galen Robotics. By the end of 2019, the surgical robotics company moved into Pigtown’s 1100 Wicomico with an opportunity zone investment in hand, and plans to keep growing.
They moved into Baltimore from the suburbs …
Looking to grow, VitusVet wanted to be closer to a cluster tech talent. So the veterinary tech company opted to leave a longtime home in Columbia and move into Baltimore city’s Brewers Hill Hub in April. It’s proved to be a location where the company is expanding its team, and offers an easy proximity for “Between Two Founders” interviews at the office of fellow Natty Boh Tower tech tenants Kapowza.
They opened an East Coast hub …
Along with homegrown companies, the year also brought firms from outside the area moving in.
In February, we reported on news that RocketDocs had a new CEO in local tech exec Jason Pappas. With that came the opening of a Baltimore office for the Frederick-based company, which makes a platform that helps firms respond to data requests.
The next month brought a Silicon Valley splash, as Bay Area-founded Broadly.com opted for Baltimore as the home of its first East Coast office. The Fells Point digs offer a walkable environment in a city that CEO Josh Melick said “just kind of felt like home.”
By the fall, San Diego-based genomics leader Illumina was also open in town. The company opened an East Coast solutions center in the University of Maryland BioPark. It’ll host trainings on the company’s technology, with officials predicting hundreds of customers and employees will come through every year.
They brought more collaboration and tech to Columbia …
The Howard County center now houses a pair of the area’s new hubs for coworking and collaboration.
The Howard County Innovation Center brought the county economic development authority’s new home for tech and entrepreneurship to Columbia Gateway Drive. It’s now home to the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and plenty of other resources.
Down the road, DreamPort is a meeting point between the government’s cybersecurity community and innovators from nonprofit, academic and industry sectors. The space is playing home to events and plenty of reverse engineering. And it’s already doubling in size.
Elsewhere on Columbia Gateway Drive, Red Alpha and iNovex joined a host of cybersecurity firms at updated spaces leased by COPT. Downtown Columbia is also attracting tech firms: Prevailion, Edwards Performance Solutions and Data Canopy are moving into the Howard Hughes Corporation-helmed Merriwhether District.
They made big plans for the future …
The year also had a couple of announcements that we’ll be tracking down the line.
Big news came over the summer that a subsidiary of payment tech player Stripe is planning to move to McHenry Row in 2022: Helm is planning to bring 200 jobs to the Locust Point development.
Even sooner, we’ll likely see the digital health innovation hub that’s being opened by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and LifeBridge Health. The pair picked up a Technical.ly Award for their partnership after coming together this year.