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DC food council expands to Baltimore

A Washington, D.C., nonprofit that certifies restaurants that offer diners healthful and sustainable foods is expanding to Baltimore.
 
The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) has certified its first restaurant in the Baltimore area, Zia’s Café in Towson, and will certify up to 10 Baltimore-area locations as part of its continuing expansion, says the food council’s Director of Marketing Chris Stemp.


Founded in 2011, the council offers the Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) certification program. It is a points-based nutrition and sustainable best practices certification similar to  the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program.
 
The food council has certified more than 30 dining establishments in D.C. via its pilot program, as well as four national corporate cafes, including Google in San Francisco. Partnerships with sites like OpenTable allow diners to search for REAL restaurants.

The food council received the majority of its undisclosed funding from one individual, as well as funding from its founding corporate sponsor, Fortessa Tableware Solutions. A three-year grant from the state of Tennessee allows expansion into the state. Establishments do pay a small fee for certifications.

To date, the council has not applied for funding from Baltimore-area investors or for city grants.

“Baltimore is a great city with a thriving food scene,” Stemp says. “DC was our pilot city and we were very successful, which gives credibility in Baltimore; many of the chefs and restaurant owners know each other.”

The food council currently has a registered dietician in Baltimore and a member of its panel of experts who helps identify potential REAL restaurants. Once a core group of Baltimore-area restaurants are established, the food council plans to hire a city manager to aid Baltimore operations. The food council currently employs 11. 

Writer: Renee Beck
Source: Chris Stemp, United States Healthful Food Council

Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launches in Baltimore

Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launched in Baltimore this month.

Users download the Lyft app on their iPhone or Android device and select their pickup location. They request an available driver and get a "lyft" where they need to go. After the ride is finished, users rate drivers on the app and give them a donation. The donations are collected through the app itself, and drivers keep about 80 percent of their take.

Co-founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer in San Francisco last year, Lyft is an offshoot of Zimride, a digital ridesharing community that came to be in 2007. 
 
Lyft was founded in San Francisco and currently operates in a total of 16 cities. An influx of $60 million in Series C funding in May, led by Andreessen Horowitz, has allowed Lyft to scale. Lyft's Boston operation launched in May and marked the first East Coast location for the business; D.C. was the second East Coast city and launched in August.  
 
Drivers must be at least 23 years old and drive a car with a model year of 2000 or newer. They must pass various screening interviews, criminal background checks and DMV checks, and their vehicle must past inspection. Lyft also carries heftly liability insurance on its drivers--$1 million per occurrence. These factors should make users feel secure in requesting a ride from a pink-mustachioed car.
 
Sean Mandell, a top-tier driver for Lyft in San Francisco, has been giving riders "lyfts" for eight months. "It has been a great experience and has provided great stories, new friends and great networking," Mandell says. "[Lyft] has revolutionized transportation needs in San Francisco."
 
Writer: Alyson Jacob

A version of this story first appeared in sister publication Elevation DC 

Emerging Technology Center signs up 10 companies for new Highlandtown office

So far 10 tech companies have committed to joining the Emerging Technology Center's new Highlandtown office when it makes the move from Canton Oct. 25. 

The city-run tech incubator will relocate to the King Cork and Seal Building, at 101 North Haven St. 

ETC has also signed up two new companies in its virtual-affiliate program, which accounts for about one-third of the 86 companies in its portfolio. Companies in the virtual program do not have offices but can use ETC facilities at the new Highlandtown site or its other office @ JHU Eastern in Charles Village. ETC president Deborah Tillett declined to name the two companies since the paperwork is still in progress. She says she expects the number of clients in the virtual program to grow. 

Tillett said that some of the companies in the ETC Canton are graduating and thus will not be transitioning to the new ETC Highlandtown. The ETC Highlandtown is laid out with dedicated offices for 11 companies, for which 10 offices are already committed. "We filled the offices quickly. We're quite happy," she says.

The Baltimore Development Corp. oversees the ETC, which houses startup and early-stage companies. The new ETC will occupy less square footage in Highlandtown than it did in Canton, though Tillett says the new location has more usable work space.
 
The ETC Highlandtown will occupy 20,000 square feet of the 70,000-square foot King Cork and Seal Building. In Canton, the ETC occupied 45,000 square feet in the Can Company, but only 30,000 square feet was usable for offices. The remaining 15,000 square feet was shared common space.
 
“We paid for it but we could not monetize it,” she says, referring to common space like lobby, halls and stairways. "We need to be thinking efficiency and the Highlandtown building has a more efficient layout and use of square feet."
 
The ETC moved into the Can Company 15 years ago as the neighborhood was transitioning from primarily industrial to a popular residential and retail neighborhood.
 
“Our leaving the space leaves [the Can Company] room for expansion,” she says.
 
Tillett called Highlandtown an “up and coming” neighborhood with “a lot going on.”  It is a state-designated Arts and Entertainment District, near Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and on the route of the future east-west Red Line light rail.
 
ETC Highlandtown’s 10 tenants are the following: 
• 6th Street, an online retail marketing program;
• ADASHI Systems, an emergency response management program;
• American Business Forms & Envelopes, which makes software for printed business forms;
• EventRebels, which provides conference and trade show software;
• Foodem, a B2B wholesale food marketer that is hiring;
• NewsUp, an organized news delivery service;
• Pieran Health Technologies, which sells custom health software;
• Same Grain, which develops social discovery technology;
• Adecio, a digital marketing firm; and,
• New Sapience, a language comprehension software maker.
 
Source: Deborah Tillett, Emerging Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Canton B2B online food marketplace hiring

Foodem, a B2B online marketplace for food distributors, is growing. Located in the Emerging Technology Center in Canton, the company has hired 11 employees since March and will hire four more sales people by the end of the year, Founder Kash Rehman says.
 
Foodem supplies goods to any business with a commercial kitchen, including restaurants, hotels, schools, daycares and nonprofit organizations. For the moment, however, Rehman is focused on capturing the restaurant vertical. "We help restaurants lower their food cost [by offering tools] to comparison shop," he explains. Foodem's online platform gives buyers a choice of distributor, and, by extension, price. "[Restaurants] don't have to call multiple places to find prices."
 
The platform also tracks what a restaurant orders from week to week, allowing owners to see the exact cost of their purchases. "Foodem give analytics in every category, every vendor, month over month, day over day," Rehman explains. And since all orders are submitted online, "[the system] eliminates errors during the procurement process."
 
On the distribution side, Rehman explains, Foodem eliminates the need and associated fee of a large sales force. "There are 21,000 restaurants in this market," he says. Servicing them all creates "enormous overhead" for suppliers.
 
Rehman is working with 25 different suppliers, including the Capital Meat CompanyBelair ProduceBowie Produce and S. Freedman and Sons, among others. Although he is open to working with other suppliers, Rehman is not concerned about the number he currently has. "It's not how many," Rehman explains, "it's the quality that matters."
 
Foodem secured $600,000 in angel funding in May and is planning a Series A fund raise in early 2014. "We have a lot of interest from prominent VCs nationwide," Rehman says.

Writer: Allyson Jacob
Source: Kash Rehman

Relay Foods launches mobile site, expands delivery location

Relay Foods, the online delivery and drop-off service for locally sourced products, recently launched its mobile website. According to Matthew Smith, art director for Relay, customers can now "complete their entire shopping order from their mobile phone."
 
Within two weeks, Smith says mobile users will be able to collaborate on the same list the way they can on Relay's main website. The mobile website "works on any device with a modern browser," says Smith, "not just Apple or Android."
 
Relay cofounder Arnie Katz launched the company in 2009 in southern Virginia and has since expanded to serve Annapolis, Baltimore, D.C., and Philadelphia. According to Katz, Relay is expanding its delivery services to Fredericksburg in the next few weeks and will turn its attention to North and South Carolina in 2014.
 
"We deliver groceries to places where customers congregate," Katz says. Instead of delivering to customers' doorsteps, which is costly, Relay sends its customers' orders to pick-up locations—apartment or office buildings, or other public areas. "We reduce delivery fees to zero and we can offer prices comparable to those at the grocery store." Home delivery is available for an additional fee.

Katz says he believes that food transparency is "the number one way to fix the food system in the United States. Relay is known for transparency, for knowing where [the food we source] was produced and how it got from farm to plate," he says.
According to Katz, transparency helps both consumers and producers. For consumers who want to eat locally sourced food, Relay makes it easy for them to know where the meat, dairy and produce on their plates are coming from. For the farmers, Katz explains, "transparency builds brand…and reduces price pressure, which results in better food products."

Customers seem to like Relay. "We're growing quickly," Katz says.
 
Relay Foods is offering a $30 discount on orders of $50 or more. Enter the code "SAVE30" to receive the discount.

Writer: Allyson Jacob
Source: Matthew Smith, Relay Foods
 


Online food ordering firm spending up to $2M to add new franchises

Canton online food ordering company OrderUp is adding more franchises to its current 14 as the company prepares to take a bigger bite of the $188 billion quick-service food industry. The company will be spending an initial $1.5 million to $2 million this year to support that initiative, says CEO Chris Jeffery.

The company is currently working with new franchise owners to launch in several new markets over the next few months. Jeffery says franchise units generally have a population of about 100,000, and include 200 to 400 restaurants.

OrderUp has identified thousands of units around the country that meet what Jeffery calls, “benchmarks for growth.” With OrderUp’s digital franchise model, the initial franchise fee is $32,500.

Many franchisees buy multiple units. Jeffery cites Norfolk, Va., as an example of a franchisee that bought two units that cover the city’s downtown area.

OrderUp facilitates local online meal orders for delivery or pick-up. OrderUp runs the Baltimore market, where residents can order from 65 restaurants, including the Cross Street Kabob House, Grilled Cheese & Co. and Ultimate Pizza. The company is starting to expand into Baltimore County.

Chris Jeffery and Jason Kwicien cofounded OrderUp in 2009, when they saw the growing consumer demand for an online food delivery service that aggregated the menus of a fragmented restaurant industry.  In December 2012, OrderUp adopted a new business model to establish its own national online food delivery brand selling franchise units to entrepreneurs in local markets across the country.

“OrderUp is the liaison between the restaurant and the consumer,” Jeffery says.

In addition to expanding its franchise reach, OrderUp this year is updating its technology platform and providing franchisees with training and support in using social media tools.

Jeffery says OrderUp has doubled revenue in 2013, with 36 months of straight growth.

OrderUp is privately financed. The company has 28 employees, of whom 16 work from its Canton headquarters. The company is looking to hire three staffers in digital marketing and support.
 
Source: Chris Jeffery, OrderUp
Writer: Barbara Pash




Personal chef service PlateDate launching in Baltimore

A personal chef service is launching in Greater Baltimore in January, promising customers five-star dining in their own home.

PlateDate currently serves Howard County and Washington, D.C. Myranda Stephens, PlateDate's communications manager, says the company is still identifying which areas of Greater Baltimore it will serve, but it will likely include a stretch from Annapolis to Bel Air, as well as Baltimore City. 

Based in Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood, the company employs two and relies on about 20 contract workers. It also has office space in D.C. incubator 1776. Stephens says the company will offer cooking classes and wine pairings in the future.

Riffing on the idea of a kids' playdate, PlateDate facilitates a grown-up get-together. "It's not catering or delivery," she says. "We send a chef to prepare and serve a meal." Chefs bring all ingredients and items necessary for cooking the meal with them and clean up after themselves as well.
 
Potential diners can browse from 25 different menu options online or can opt for a custom-made meal. Each PlateDate is priced per person, starting at $39 for brunch and capping at around $125 for dinner, depending on the options selected. 
 
"You’re getting a personal chef at your house," Stephens states. "A three-course meal— five-star dining—in your own home."
 
PlateDate also wants to "keep it local" whenever possible. The company is committed to promoting locally grown produce; a company partner's family owns a farm in King and Queen County, Va. "Two of the biggest crops from [the] farm are sweet potatoes and kale, which we've incorporated in several of our menu items," Stephens explains. She also says that the farm-to-table aspect of PlateDate's operation has several investors "strongly interested" in the company.
 
Currently, PlateDate has more than a dozen personal chefs on board. "It's a fun concept and it offers a lot of flexibility," Stephens explains. "Some [chefs] do have other full-time jobs. [PlateDate] is a fun way to pick up extra cash and…to do what they love to do in a different way. "
 
PlateDates are available Thursdays through Sundays for brunch and dinner. Stephens says the company would like to offer PlateDates seven days a week, and that expansion will come as the company's network of personal chefs grows. 
 
"We're always looking for talented chefs," she explains. "Having a system of chefs increases availability [for the consumer], so you're not at the mercy of a single calendar."

Writer: Allyson Jacob
Source: Myranda Stephens, PlateDate
 


Fast Company:Intelect Corp

Baltimore’s Intelect Corp. was founded by Rohit H. Patel in 1995 to serve the systems needs of the transportation industry.
It began with a few customers, primarily in public transportation and with several leading integrators and manufacturers. Some of the earliest projects included writing specifications for complex communications systems, as well as contracts to perform low and high voltage systems upgrades.

As Intelect grew, the list of projects grew to include engineering, implementation, information technology consulting and intelligent transportation systems. In 1998, it created a division to meet the needs of technologically advanced systems in consulting.
 
The Canton firm now employs 80.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Fortune magazine recently selected Intelect as one of its 2013 Inner City 100, a list of the fastest-growing inner city companies in the U.S. Intelect was No. 93 on the list. The Inner City 100 program recognizes successful inner city companies and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices and job creation in America’s urban communities.

New online magazine seeks business success stories in Baltimore

Entrepreneurs Lauryn Sargent and Scott Thompson have launched Origin Stories, a free weekly online publication dedicated to the histories of "the superheroes of business." And the D.C. business partners are looking for business success stories in Greater Baltimore.

Origin Stories highlights stories about a company's founding days and is featuring companies from around the country, says Thompson, who grew up in Rockville. Thompson says he will be speaking to organizations in Baltimore in the next month.

Each issue of Origin Stories is delivered via email and is designed to give entrepreneurs a mental boost when they need it most.

"It says, 'Here's the struggle, and here's the payout or the success,'" Sargent explains. In a nod to the comic book theme, publications are numbered. The most recent looks at the origin of Domino's Pizza combines pithy text blocks with bold colors and iconic images. "[The stories are] reminders that it's tough now, but there is a payoff to what you're doing."
 
Sargent credits her company's summer intern for Origin Stories' memorable design. "They are visually attractive and they promote our brand. And, she explains, referencing the motivational aspect of the product, "we wanted to give something back to the startup community."
 
The digital one-sheeters are a natural outgrowth of Sargent and Thompson's two sister companies, which create personal and corporate histories for clients nationwide.  On the personal side, Stories Inherited interviews, researches and works to capture a personal legacy. Sargent and Thompson and a team of historians weave narratives around photos, film footage and oral histories, often taking advantage of the multimedia format of e-books to allow a subject's voice to be passed on to future generations.
 
"We offer a spectrum of products," Sargent explains. A full-service product includes historian-conducted interviews. "If you do the interviews yourself—we'll give you a framework—we can help with editing and printing." 
 
Stories Incorporated evolved from Stories Inherited. "It's corporate storytelling," she says. "We interview between 10 and 30 past and current employees and the founders to tell [a company's] story and show progression." In addition to being a terrific artifact, the result can be used as a marketing tool for prospective employees or an onboarding tool for new hires. "We interviewed 30 employees at New Light Technologies in D.C.," Sargent says, "and created 20 videos about the industry, the evolution of the company, and so on."
 

Writer: Allyson Jacob 
Source: Lauryn Sargent and Scott Thompson

Meal delivery services expands to Baltimore

Power Supply, a fresh meal delivery service that puts paleo food in the hands of the people at Crossfit gyms, has joined forces with Mindful Chef, a similar business that focuses on serving the yoga community.

The combined companies will run under the Power Supply name and will serve 44 locations in Maryland and Virginia, including Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Annapolis and Alexandria. According to Robert Morton, cofounder of Power Supply, the merger will bring new flavors and new drop-off locations. In Greater Baltimore, Power Supply serves South Baltimore Crossfit, Crossfit Revamped in Columbia and Crossfit BWI in Glen Burnie. 
 
Before starting Mindful Chef, co-founder Jeff Kelley ran a food truck called Eat Wonky. Morton says that Kelley's lessons from the food truck industry, combined with the audience Mindful Chef serves and the foundations of the business, made the merger a good fit. 
 
A new ordering system that allows users to manage multiple orders was just rolled out. For example, let's say Fred is set up with five extra-large lunches and dinners per week in the system, and Wilma is set up with three regular lunches. Both are on the same account as recurring subscriptions. But if Fred goes to Slate Construction's annual retreat out of town and needs to stop his meals for the week, Wilma can still get hers. 
 
Morton says that the companies are "still working on bringing their [supply] lines together"; in the fall he anticipates users will be able to choose from classic paleo meals, a paleo-inspired "middle of the road" option, vegetarian fare and potential third-party lines that can be "built as a subscription under us. It will be easy for customers to access a fellow local company that fits with what we want to offer." There is no word yet on which companies might be offered.

Writer: Allyson Jacob
Source: Robert Morton, Power Supply

Biotech startup seeking up to $4M in financing

Baltimore biotech firm Ocular Proteomics LLC is seeking its first round of financing within the next six months, for $3 million to $4 million in venture capital. While a closing date for the round has not been determined, the decision follows a $1.2 million federal grant the biotechnology startup recently won to begin clinical trials on macular degeneration diagnosis and treatment. The startup last month moved from Towson to UMB BioPark for larger laboratory facilities.

The venture capital financing will be used for clinical trials, marketing and new hires, according to director of business development Joshua Hines.

The $1.2 million grant comes from the National Eye Institute and National Institutes of Health, and runs for  two years, from May 2013 to May 2015. Next year, the company will apply to renew the grant and, if successful, would receive $1.5 million per year for up to five years.

The $1.2 million grant enables Ocular to start clinical trials for ophthalmic diagnosis based on the company’s discovery of biochemical markers in the vitreous of the human eye. The trials will be held at three locations -- Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland – and will involve 200 patients with macular degeneration.

Dr. Bert M. Glaser, Ocular’s chief scientific Institutes of Health officer, founded the company in 2009. Dr. Glaser heads the National Retina Institute, of which Ocular is a spinoff.
 
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among adults. An estimated 15 million Americans have macular degeneration, of whom 2.5 million have the advanced form that threatens their eyesight. If not treated, the disease inevitably leads to blindness.
 
There is no cure for macular degeneration but there is an injectible medication that stops the progression of the disease in about one-third of the patients on whom it is used. However, a patient must wait six months to a year before knowing if the medication is effective. Based on the biomarkers, the company’s focus is to determine if the patient will respond to the medication before then.
 
The privately-financed Ocular has two full-time employees. It is looking to hire two laboratory technicians within the year, and is also seeking up to three college students who are interested in unpaid internships doing eye research.
 
Source: Joshua Hines, Ocular Proteomics LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Friends & Farms grocery delivery expands to Baltimore City

Friends & Farms last month launched two pickup sites in Baltimore, in Roland Park and Little Italy. The Columbia-based alternative food provider is starting with 30 customers at the new locations but expects to increase that number and to add additional pickup sites in the future.
 
“We knew there was a community in the city for us,”  says director of marketing Regina McCarthy, who conducted a marketing campaign with an emphasis on social media before the Baltimore launch.
 
“We picked those sites because they are central and north of downtown,” says McCarthy,  “and also because we are working with people who understand what we're doing.”
 
The Baltimore pickup sites are at the Gilman School, at 5407 Roland Ave. and 210 South Central Ave, at Stratford University.

Friends & Farms sells weekly baskets of fresh, locally-grown produce and other items year-round. Customers pick up their baskets at designated sites on designated days. Since its founding last year, the company has grown from three sites to seven and from 30 customers to over 250. Sites are located in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties besides Baltimore. It's one of several companies that are delivering farm-fresh produce and meat
 
McCarthy says that co-founders Philip Gottwals and Tim Hosking not only wanted to offer an alternative food system to consumers but to give farmers financial security. Before the growing season, company staffers meet with about 70 local farmers to plan crops for the baskets. The company also works with local bakeries, creameries, meat processors, fishermen and people who make honey and preserves.
 
Weekly baskets vary in size: one-person at $40 per week, two-person at $51 per week and four-person at $76 per week. A vegetarian basket runs $55 per week. New this year are gluten-free and dairy-free options.
 
Each basket contains enough food for one week, including  fresh produce,  two proteins (fish, poultry, meat or vegetarian),  bread and dairy. Food selection varies with the seasons. The company sends customers a weekly newsletter with recipes and updates on the farmers, and sponsors a yearly tour of the farms.

Friends & Farms has a staff of nine, and may be hiring additional staffers this fall.

 
Source: Regina McCarthy, Friends &Farms
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Edgewebhosting opens third data center

Edgewebhosting Inc. is opening its third data center in Phoenix, Arizona, in August. To accommodate expected growth, the managed cloud hosting service expanded its corporate headquarters in downtown’s Baltimore's SunTrust Bank Building last month and is hiring nine, all in IT, to its current 41 employees. 
 
A $5 million loan from M&T Bank financed the Phoenix data center, CEO Vlad Friedman says. The company already has two data centers on the East Coast. The first opened in 2005 in a building near Baltimore’s Lexington Market; the second in 2010 in Ashburn, Va.
 
The company’s data center in Phoenix is intended to offer more options and more security for current customers and to attract future customers. “Our service hosts important web sites for companies that need to remain secure, online 24/7, backed up and safe from hackers,” says Friedman.
 
Customers will have the option of choosing their primary location for web hosting and a secondary location.
 
“Customers can choose between two completely separate geographic areas and different time zones,” says Friedman. “We want to attract more enterprise customers to host their information in Baltimore by leveraging the strategy of going West.”
 
Edgewebhosting offers hosting on the cloud and, since cloud hosting isn’t suitable for every client, a combination of cloud and other technologies. The company’s fee is based on a combination of resources and managed services, and is fixed with the customer beforehand.
 
“The services are the same. The only thing that changes is the scale,” says Friedman of fees that range from $300 to $100,000 per month.
 
Customers include health insurers Aetna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Heritage Foundation, the Humane Society of the U.S.,Oxford English Dictionary, Columbia University and local advertising and marketing agencies.
 
Founded in 1998, the privately-financed company was originally located in Owings Mills, in Baltimore County. In 2005, it moved to the city because it needed a site that had the electricity and internet connectivity to handle thousands of servers.
 
Friedman says the company is on track to earn $13 million to $14 million in revenue for 2013. For the last six years, revenue has doubled every 36 months, and revenue from cloud hosting has grown 100 percent every six months for the past year.
 
The Baltimore data center expanded by 50 percent last year to handle customer demand. Edgewebhosting itself doubled its staff in the past 18 months, to its current 41, and has openings for an additional nine positions, for database administrators, server administrators and software developers. 
 
Source: Vlad Friedman, Edgwebhosting Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Constellation in the running for $7B in federal alternative energy contracts

Constellation is in the running for up to $7 billion in federal contracts to install alternative energy technology in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force bases in this country and abroad.

The Baltimore-based regional energy provider, a subsidiary of Exelon, last month qualified to provide up to $4 billion in geothermal alternative systems. The company has submitted bids to qualify for the remaining, up to $3 billion, for solar, wind and biomass systems.
 
The Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production contracts stem from a congressional mandate to reduce the U.S. military's reliance on fossil fuel. The goal is for U.S. Department of Defense installations to receive 25 percent production and consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2025. In 2012, the department reportedly spent more than $21 billion on conventional fuel contracts.
 
Constellation's executive director of the federal energy management programs John Dukes says geothermal was likely chosen as the first renewable to install because the technology can provide a reliable, steady source of energy for heating and cooling.
 
“The army strategically laid out geothermal as the biggest opportunity in compliance with their mission. It is starting with geothermal because that’s where they see the biggest bang for their bucks,” he says.
 
Dukes expects to hear by August whether Constellation qualifies for any or all of the other three renewables. He does not know how the up to $3 billion in contracts for solar, wind and biomass will be divided.
 
For the geothermal contracts, Constellation is one of five companies to qualify to bid on such contracts. The other companies are EEC Renewables LLC, California; Enel Green Power North America, Massachusetts; LTC Federal, Michigan; and Siemens Government Technologies, Virginia.
 
Within the next three to four months, the defense department will issue requests for proposals for possibly seven to nine projects within the U.S. and abroad. Dukes does not know if and when more geothermal contracts will be offered, although a meeting this week with army officials might answer that question.
 
The contracts will include power purchase agreements, meaning that the award-winning company builds and maintains the geothermal system at its own expense but has a guaranteed market for the energy produced. The government will buy the energy at a predetermined rate in long-term contracts that can run up to 30 years.
 
Geothermal uses the subsurface temperature to produce energy. There are different technologies and delivery systems depending on the location. Dukes says Constellation intends to bid on every geothermal contract although there is no guarantee that it will win any of them.
 
“It’s going to be highly competitive but we expect to be successful,” he says. “The awards will be based on the lowest price of electricity from the different geothermal technology.”
 
Source: John Dukes, Constellation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Blue Wave Semiconductors seeks first round of funding

Blue Wave Semiconductors Inc. is going after its first funding round of $500,000 next month. The Baltimore County developer of products for semiconductors, located in the incubator bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park in Catonsville, expects to close the round by the end of this year. It is seeking funding from angel investors and will use the money to expand sales of its product line in Europe and Asia.
 
“We have many products for the international market. We want to increase sales of existing and future products,” says founder and CEO R.D. Vispute.

Blue Wave is also awaiting approval of up to $4 million in federal grants this year, from the U.S. Department of Defense, National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Award and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The grants are intended for product development, not sales.
 
Blue Wave makes microelectronic and nano-electronic tools for semiconductors that academic and private research centers and laboratories use.
 
“Our core expertise is extending research abilities in nano and electric material. We expand the number of materials available for R&D,” Vispute says.
 
The company has developed a dozen physical and chemical tools for the R&D market. It has already received grants totaling $2.3 million from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, to develop radiation hard coatings for space application; National Science Foundation, for nanomaterials development; and Maryland Industrial Partnership.
 
Blue Wave grew out of research by Vispute, a research scientist in the physics department of the University of Maryland College Park. Founded in 2000, he moved into the UMBC incubator in 2004.
 
In 2011, Blue Wave entered into a partnership with Seki Technology to expand product sales. From 2011 to 2012, sales almost doubled, to $1.1 million. Estimated sales for 2013 are $1.6 million.
 
Clients include the U.S. Department of Defense and the universities of Maryland and California, as well as national laboratories in Singapore, Germany, Australia and India. On the private side, clients include Sylvania R&D Lighting Division, Pixelligent Technologies, General Motors and BAE Systems.
 
Within the next six months, the company is nearly doubling its current staff of six to hire up to four employees in engineering and nanotechnology. It is a finalist in the 2013 Maryland Incubator of the Year. The award will be announced later this month.
 
Source: R.D. Vispute, Blue Wave Semiconductors Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
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