This group is putting resources behind Baltimore’s promising health-tech scene

As part of the VilCap Communities program, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and the Abell Foundation are committing to invest at least $50,000 in local health startups.

Hopkins officials mingle at the opening of FastForward East, February 2015.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

A group of startup-boosting Baltimore organizations are among the first partners in a new initiative that’s looking to create more venture capital in cities that aren’t New York, Boston and San Francisco.

With VilCap Communities, which is a program of D.C.-based Village Capital, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and the Abell Foundation are committing to invest at least $50,000 to help local health startups. The organizations will likely work together to support and help build resources for startups, said Christy Wyskiel, senior advisor to Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels.
Baltimore is among 16 cities selected for the initiative, with others including Buffalo, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville and D.C. Representatives from each organization are set to gather for a launch event in Salt Lake City on March 18.
VilCap Communities manager Jared Marquette pointed out that about three-quarters of startup capital flows to New York, Boston and the Bay Area.
“We’ve always found it pretty hard to believe 70-75 percent of the talent lives in those cities,” he said, adding that 90 percent of funding goes to white males.
Marquette said Village Capital was initially exposed to Baltimore’s startup community as part of its partner efforts on the Rise of the Rest tour, which stopped in Baltimore in September. The city’s health startup community was identified as being well-positioned, he said.
Rise of the Rest is now a partner in VilCap Communities. At the launch event, AOL cofounder, Revolution investor and Rise of the Rest champion Steve Case will be the keynote speaker.
Village Capital is not initially committing any funds directly. At the launch event, representatives from each of the communities will evaluate each other, and the top two groups will each get $25,000 in unrestricted funding.


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