Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) October 11, 2012
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has launched the InvestMaryland Challenge, a national business competition that gives seed and early-stage companies a unique opportunity to pitch their business and win $300,000 in venture capital funding. The Challenge will award a $100,000 top prize in three categories: life sciences; IT (hardware and software); and general business. In addition, all applicants will have the opportunity to pitch their business to top venture capital firms and angel investors, and will be given access to resources like incubator space and legal services. Applications are being accepted now through December 13, with Governor O’Malley announcing winners in March 2013. For more information or to apply, visit http://www.investmarylandchallenge.org
“The InvestMaryland Challenge is an important part of an overall strategy to strengthen our greatest competitive asset as a State and as a nation: the talent, ingenuity and education of our entrepreneurs,” said Governor O’Malley. “Launching this Challenge demonstrates that we believe in investing in the best and brightest innovative ideas so that we can compete and win in the New Economy.”
“The Challenge gives us a way to identify, celebrate and encourage our thriving entrepreneurs, both in Maryland and across our nation,” said Christian S. Johansson, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. “Our goal with this competition is to help create the jobs and companies of tomorrow and continue to nurture an economic climate where the most promising ideas and innovations have a chance to mature.”
The Challenge is open to legally-organized businesses with fewer than 25 employees and annual revenues of less than $1 million. The IT and life sciences categories are open only to Maryland-based companies; companies outside Maryland may compete in the general category but, if selected to receive the top prize, must be willing to relocate their business to the State. More than 40 business leaders from successful companies throughout Maryland will judge the entries. Finalists will be invited to present their ideas in face-to-face interviews with industry-specific judging panels in late February 2013.
Inc. magazine has signed on as a national media partner and will help to promote the Challenge and profile the winning companies. “Inc. is pleased to be the media partner of the InvestMaryland Challenge,” said Eric Schurenberg, Editor-in-Chief of Inc. “We at Inc. are always delighted to be part of an effort to put capital in the hands of entrepreneurs, helping them do what they do best: inspire, innovate and leave the world better than they found it.”
In addition to fueling entrepreneurship, the Challenge will also help build a pipeline of innovative companies for the State’s InvestMaryland program, the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. The program is being run through the Maryland Venture Fund Authority and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. In March, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies. While other states have sold tax credits to fund similar venture capital initiatives, Maryland is the first state to use an online auction to raise the capital for such a program.
Among its benefits, InvestMaryland has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Innovation Economy sectors – life sciences and biotechnology, cyber security/IT and clean/green tech – and to attract billions of follow-on capital. It mirrors many aspects of a federal program to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship nationwide, The Startup America Partnership, which President Barack Obama launched year.
Two-thirds of the InvestMaryland funds will be managed by carefully screened private venture firms, who will invest the funds with a commitment to return 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. The remaining third of InvestMaryland funding will be invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF). Over its 17-year existence, the MVF has invested $25 million into hundreds of start-up and early stage technology and life sciences companies, generating a $61 million return, 2000 jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. The Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) will also receive a portion of funds for investment. Returns on the funds invested through the MVF will be reinvested in the program.