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Two Maryland Start-Ups Receive InvestMaryland Funding

BALTIMORE, MD (December 13, 2012) – Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) Secretary Christian S. Johansson announced today that the State has invested $300,000 in two start-up companies through InvestMaryland. Plasmonix will receive $100,000, and Bambeco, which received $400,000 in InvestMaryland funding last month, will receive $200,000. The investments will be made through DBED’s Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), which is investing a portion of the $84 million available through InvestMaryland. These investments are among the first made by the venture capital program, which announced its first investment in September.
“Companies like Plasmonix and Bambeco continue to shape the future of Maryland’s economy by growing the jobs of tomorrow,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “These are the first of what will be dozens of investments over the coming months thanks to InvestMaryland's significant impact on our State’s innovative companies.”
“The speed with which the InvestMaryland funds are being disbursed and the strength of the companies in which we are investing show how critical this program is to the State’s entrepreneurs and start-up community,” Secretary Johansson said. “Investments from programs like InvestMaryland and its partners in the private sector can propel entrepreneurs from innovation to commercialization to company formation to job creation.”
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, if successful, 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. 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.
Plasmonix, located in the bwtech@UMBC Research & Technology Park, has developed a technology known as metal-enhanced fluorescence, which is used in cell detection for medical research and clinical diagnostics. The technology has potential applications across the life science, as well as in cosmetics, apparel, paints and lighting. Founded in 2009, the company now has four employees. Last year, the MVF invested $150,000 in the company.
"Plasmonix is grateful for the continued support from the Maryland Venture Fund and the Department of Business and Economic Development,” said William Gust, President and CEO of Plasmonix. “These funds are critically important to the ongoing development and commercialization of Plasmonix's technology and we would not be where we are today without this support.  We hope to repay the confidence demonstrated in Plasmonix by adding jobs and growing the company here in Maryland."

Over the past year and a half, Bambeco has received several investments from the MVF totaling $700,000, including the recent InvestMaryland funds. An online retailer of sustainable products, Bambeco’s 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. The company has 24 employees and expects to double its staff in the next two years.

“We are honored to be a recipient of venture capital funding through InvestMaryland,” said Susan Aplin, Bambeco President and CEO. “Forty percent of annual retail sales in the United States occur during fourth quarter. These funds allow Bambeco to secure the necessary inventory for our planned holiday sales. We are thankful for the additional investment from InvestMaryland and thank Maryland Venture Fund, the Department of Business and Economic Development, and Governor O’Malley for their continued support as we work to create jobs and help grow Maryland’s economy.”

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