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InvestMaryland Forum Hosted on Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus

by Aliyah DeVille

In a room filled with more than 200 early stage entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and stakeholders, Peter Greenleaf, President of MedImmune and Chairman of InvestMaryland, Invest Maryland introduced the historic plan laid out by the Maryland Venture Fund Authority and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).

InvestMaryland, first announced in August 2011, is an initiative by Governor Martin O’Malley to invest in the state’s start-up and early stage companies. And with Maryland recently named the number one state for innovation, there was no better state for a program such as this one.

As of March 15, 2012, the program had raised $84 million from insurance companies through the nation’s first online auction, surpassing the Maryland Venture Fund Authority‘s initial goal of $75 million.

The funds will be divided and deployed over three years, from 2012-2014 with this year’s $28 million invested this summer in a number of innovative companies through private venture capital firms and the Maryland Venture Fund.

But this money won’t just be given to venture capitalists to invest and grow.

“Our goal is not only to create assets, but to make a long standing impact on the state by creating jobs,” Greenleaf said.

According to the three founders of Moodlerooms, InvestMaryland is well on its way to success. Moodlerooms, a learning management systems provider that started as an incubator in Maryland, now has more than 80 employees and an office in Indianapolis, Indiana. But the former educators who founded the company say they remain loyal to the state that gave them their start.

“The state definitely helped,” said General Manager Martin Knott. “We encourage any entrepreneur to go to [Maryland].”

BrainScope Company CEO Michael Singer also praised the Maryland Venture Fund and DBED for their support in helping his company receive a $7.5 million award from the Department of Defense.

It’s the personal attention that seems to attract early stage entrepreneurs to InvestMaryland, according to Greenleaf. The difference, Greenleaf says, is evident in how InvestMaryland measures success.

“Venture capitalists focus on a return on their investments,” he said. “We’re focused on creating jobs and also making sure that the state gets a good return as well.”

The program is similar to the Startup America Partnership launched by President Obama last year.

People at Invest Maryland

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