This business challenge connects Maryland companies and innovators


Think innovation communities, and startups usually come to mind first.

When a community thrives, many different types of organizations take part. Some drive new ideas. Some offer guidance on how to build a business. Others provide the resources to take the young companies forward. The point is that groups of different sizes can work together to develop new technologies and models.

That includes companies. In the regions Technically In the areas surrounding the Mid-Atlantic, we’ve seen how the largest and most established companies in an area can play an organizing role and bring the perspective of a full-scale operation. They are also always on the lookout for talent.

We are therefore interested in a new initiative in Maryland that aims to provide companies with a way to deal directly with the ecosystem: Maryland Business Innovation Challenge (MDBIC) creates a crowdsource-style mechanism that brings businesses and innovators together to solve problems.

MDBIC was created by the Maryland Business Innovation Association (MBIA) and the Maryland Department of Commerce. TEDCO and the Towson law firm Nempho’s brow also sponsor.

“The Maryland Business Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity for our corporate community and innovators to forge new connections, accelerate business opportunities, and raise awareness of the immense talent of our state’s innovation network,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz said in a statement. “We are confident that this challenge will help us develop stronger and more competitive companies, attract investors and ultimately create more jobs.”

The business challenge will work the other way around: the participating companies will issue statements of challenge that will be spread across the state. Then innovators from the startup, small business, and academic world can suggest possible solutions. The idea is that companies can get access to the new ideas, uncover technology, and meet talent to move things forward, while innovators can gain notoriety and build relationships with larger companies, said MBIA Senior Director of Operations and Programming Betsy O’Neill Collie.

“This is not a competition,” said Collie. “It’s a challenge. The result is the relationships that are built between the organizations.”

Efforts are scheduled to begin with a virtual series of releases of the first challenges in the week of February 15, leading to six weeks of development. A larger event will be held in the autumn to exchange findings and results.

In interviews, executives from three companies that had registered discussed their challenges and why they were committed. You can see that MDBIC not only helps unearth individual connections, it also helps build a community of Maryland companies that work with startups.


Healthworx, the Baltimore-based innovation arm of the health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShieldsees the prerequisites for a thriving ecosystem with leading medical institutions, policy makers, and large payers and providers. MDBIC can help bridge the “gaps” between innovators and companies, and help startups navigate the complex healthcare systems that they often need to do business with in order to grow Emily Durfee. She is Healthworx’s program manager for 1501 health, the incubator the organization is launching with the provider next month LifeBridge health.

In particular, Healthworx has focused its challenge on neighborhood health care and engaging people with tools to improve health outcomes. It’s not just about the care they receive, but how they can access it, trust, and other social factors.

“This is a truly amazing opportunity as we can tell what are the biggest problems we are seeing right now and how we can use this amazing ecosystem of smart, passionate healthcare professionals to solve problems with us and develop ideas that who manage to get onto the market with our support and care, ”said Durfee.

SC&H Group

At a Sparks-based management consultancy and tax firm SC&H GroupThere has long been an innovation committee that identifies new technologies and approaches that support their work, and a CEO Pritpal Kalsi said the company would not have grown without this approach. Now it sees innovation as a “core value”.

“It’s a value that has inspired each of us to look beyond the essential and challenge them to grow individually and to challenge others to help them grow,” said Kalsi.

The SC&H Group sees participating in MDBIC as an opportunity to get in touch with others who accept this approach as they do. The challenge will be remote working. Kalsi said the team hasn’t skipped a beat since the postponement caused by the pandemic and implemented a lot in both process and culture. But the best approaches are still being sought. So MDBIC will be a chance to learn from others and return favors by offering insight when possible.


The challenge can also provide an opportunity to build on the region’s emerging strengths. Iconic technology company IBMThe company has a number of offices in central Maryland and has spent a long time developing quantum technology in its laboratories. Now it’s part of a group – to the government, to institutions like that University of Maryland College Park and businesses – with the goal of making more connections to atomic-level advances applications that could power areas like computing and healthcare.

John Joaquin, who leads IBM’s social responsibility and innovation efforts in the region, sees key elements: There are research laboratories and federal scientists working on technology and startup activities commercializing it. And the state’s existing technical strengths in security and life sciences will also be important in introducing Quantum.

Therefore, IBM is focusing on quantum with its challenge as an extension of this bridge to find out “who is interested in quantum, what talents there are and what business ideas or use cases are applicable to quantum computers”.

“We see it as part of this effort to expand the different areas, identify players and drive a regional movement as an early leader and really make the technology work better,” said Joaquin. “Many tech companies see that Quantum will be very important in the future. How complete is not yet known, but as it becomes more widespread, this region aims to be the leader in applying this technology to societal use cases that affect humanity. “