TEDCO Offers Advice to JHU MCC Entrepreneurs
The buzz in the room was electrifying. Entrepreneurs were hugging, smiling, greeting one another warmly. Was this a party?
No. It was one in a series of executive breakfasts held on the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus. Chief executives from the approximately 30 companies at JHU MCC got together to share news and updates since the last gathering. In the interim, many had been flying to the Far East, India, Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere to search for funding and attend conferences. They were all happy to be back on home base at Hopkins – if only for a few days.
In addition to networking, they also got some encouragement from Stephen Auvil, vice president of tech transfer and commercialization for Maryland Technology Development Corporation, or TEDCO.TEDCO was created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1998.
TEDCO is a funding source for seed capital and entrepreneurial business assistance. The corporation offers mentoring, funding and networking advice. TEDCO helps researchers transfer ideas from labs to commercial businesses; helps start-ups launch their companies; and helps existing companies expand. TEDCO also administers the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.
Maryland entrepreneurs need help, Auvil said. Maryland is ranked fourth among states for university research expenditures, but only 40th among states for start-up companies formed per dollar of research expenditure. TEDCO’s goal, Auvil said, is to bridge that gap by offering several types of funding assistance.
“Maryland needs more entrepreneurial activity to leverage its regional assets,” Auvil said.
Auvil, who received master’s degree in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, explained the proverbial “valley of death”: Universities receive funding dollars for basic research, often through the federal government. Mature companies get money through investors. But early-stage companies have difficulty getting money to do research, often because investors find them too risky. Many companies die at this point for lack of funding.
TEDCO, he said, is trying to nurture an ecosystem for entrepreneurs so they can attain the funding they need to succeed.
Before Auvil’s presentation, company representatives provided updates on their research and the products they are developing. Many extolled the virtues of being located at Johns Hopkins Montgomery County. They talked about the connections and friends made, as well as the ideas shared.
Alice Hsin of LINX Global Health said she has seen the value of making friends on campus.
“We love Hopkins,” Hsin said. “It’s our family. Here is my hideout place to think about how I am going to grow my business.”