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Three Maryland Start-Ups Tapped for $1.1M in Funding through State’s InvestMaryland Program

BALTIMORE, MD (November 13, 2012) – As part of today’s Maryland Entrepreneur Expo 2012 hosted by TEDCO, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) Secretary Christian S. Johansson announced that the State has invested $1.1 million in three start-up companies through the InvestMaryland program. Rockville-based Maxtena will receive a $560,000 investment, and two Baltimore companies – Bambeco and PathSensors – will receive investments of $400,000 and $200,000, respectively. The investments are among the first made through the State’s $84 million venture capital program. The first investment was $250,000 to Bethesda-based Brainscope in September.

“When we make strategic investments in cutting-edge companies like Maxtena, PathSensors and Bambeco, we are strengthening Maryland’s leadership in the Innovation Economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “With a total of $84 million to invest in the State’s best and brightest start-ups, we are stimulating our economy and creating jobs not just for today, but for generations to come.”

“InvestMaryland plays a critical role in taking an idea from innovation to commercialization to company formation to job creation,” said Secretary Johansson. “Our investments through this program will attract significant follow-on capital from the private sector, create well-paying jobs and support a wide range of companies in biotechnology, cyber security, green energy and other targeted industries.”

Created by Governor O’Malley and passed by the General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. The program is being administered through the Maryland Venture Fund Authority and DBED. In March, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies.

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 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 $67 million return, 2000 jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. Returns on the funds invested through the MVF are reinvested in the program. Last month, a 2005/2006 MVF investment in cyber security company Fidelis Security returned $2.2 million to the Fund.

Companies receiving investments announced today include Maxtena Inc, which has become a global leader in the development and production of external and custom miniature antennas for global navigation and mobile applications, including satellite phones, military radios, handheld navigation devices, GPS trackers and other wireless devices. Founded in 2006, Maxtena provides its products and consulting services to government agencies, business and non-governmental organizations around the world. The Maryland Venture Fund led a Series A preferred stock investment round in the company.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by InvestMaryland, particularly among such a large group of technology companies that contribute to making Maryland a flagship for excellence and innovation,” said Stanislav Licul, Ph.D., president and CEO of Maxtena. “This funding award will support our growth in the areas of advanced antenna and wireless communications and will allow us to continue developing novel technologies that we hope will drive the new internet infrastructure with smaller and higher efficiency devices.”

Located in the University of Maryland BioPark, PathSensors is a biodefense company that has developed a pair of products used to detect biological threats. BioFlash-E is an aerosol collection system that rapidly detects and identifies threat agents in near real-time and BioFlash-AF detects and identifies foodborne pathogens and toxins. The Maryland Venture Fund invested $100,000 in PathSensors in 2010.

“PathSensor’s CANARY technology is providing rapid pathogen testing that ensures a safe and reliable supply of food products for the world’s growing population,” said Ted Olsen, CEO of PathSensors. “These funds will support the development of new products for the food processing industry.”

Bambeco, an online retailer headquartered in south Baltimore, sells eco-friendly home décor and furniture. The catalog includes solar-powered tea lanterns, recycled scrap steel trash bins, bicycle chain bottle openers and briefcases made from recycled truck tires with seatbelt shoulder straps. Bambeco’s products have been featured by USA Today, Every Day with Rachael Ray, People Magazine, The Today Show and the Emmy-winning sitcom Modern Family. The company has 24 employees now and will soon grow into a larger warehouse space to accommodate rising demand for its products. The Maryland Venture Fund made two earlier investments in the company totaling $300,000.

“We are incredibly honored to be one of the early recipients of InvestMaryland funds,” said Susan Aplin, CEO of Bambeco. “As a result of the investment, Bambeco is moving into a new 22,000- square-foot facility this month. We’re hiring people now and plan to double the size of our staff in the next 12 months. The continued state support through the Maryland Venture Fund and InvestMaryland has been essential to our growth.”

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