Maryland Economy / Maryland Small Business / Maryland Startups / Innovation
What makes up Maryland’s innovation ecosystem? One of the best global incubators in the world, for starters.
By Julie Miller /
January 28, 2020

For more than 20 years, the Baltimore-based incubator and accelerator Emerging Technology Centers (ETC) has powered more than 500 companies and attracted more than $2.4 billion in capital to the region. ETC has an earned an incredible reputation locally, but it’s not just locals who recognize its impact. Recently, UBI Global recognized ETC as a top five global public business incubator. To determine its rankings, UBI Global assessed 1,580 programs worldwide using 21 key performance indicators related to value for the ecosystem, value for the program, and value for client startups. 

UBI Global’s nod to ETC reinforces what we already knew: Maryland has a robust innovation ecosystem that is only getting stronger. But an ecosystem is made of many elements, and here are some of the other elements contributing to our thriving community of entrepreneurs. 

Colleges and universities empowering entrepreneurs 

Colleges and universities across the state are empowering entrepreneurship through collaborative research, state-of-the-art facilities, and unique programs. Towson University’s TU Incubator and University of Maryland’s MTech Ventures are among the university-affiliated incubators. Research parks like UMBC’s bwtech and University of Maryland’s Discovery District are hotbeds of innovation. And initiatives like Johns Hopkins University’s Tech Ventures and Salisbury University’s Shore Hatchery Program help bring entrepreneurial ideas to life. 

Enough talent to power startups 

Speaking of colleges and universities, Maryland’s institutions are a primary driver for our strong talent pipeline. In fact, Maryland has the highest concentration of STEM professionals among the states and ranks third in bachelor’s degree attainment. Local CEOs will tell you that the talent coming out of Maryland’s institutions is unmatched, and is a leading reason for doing business here. And when recent graduates with STEM degrees are deciding where to live and work, Maryland is an easy sell

Plenty of spaces designed for entrepreneurs

In addition to ETC, Maryland is home to many other incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces. This database lists more than 50 to choose from in all areas of the state. Another resource is the Maryland Business Innovation Association (MBIA) which helps advance business incubation in Maryland. Representing 25 organizations, MBIA supports approximately 550 companies across the state in both urban and rural areas.  

A committed community

Maryland tech entrepreneurs take advantage of a strong community of like-minded individuals and mentors. Once an investor in San Francisco, Anders Jones said the Baltimore community welcomed him with open arms when he set up his financial services company Facet Wealth here.  

“It was really refreshing moving here, to see how the community has really embraced investing in and creating a tech hub here,” said Jones. 

TEDCO, an organization committed to supporting Maryland’s entrepreneurs, provides access to mentors, in addition to its many other services and programs. 

Federal research/tech transfer

Maryland is home to 78 federal labs⁠—that’s two times more than any other state. Twenty military facilities and 60 federal civilian agencies are also in Maryland. Without a doubt, these institutions are behind incredible discoveries that are just waiting for commercialization. Companies like Enveil are taking these innovations and making them available to commercial clients. And the state is always looking for ways to help companies spur innovation from our federal assets, offering unique resources like Maryland Defense Technology Commercialization Centers (DefTech).  

Find out more about Maryland’s innovation ecosystem by exploring key industries pages and resources for entrepreneurs.  


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