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GBTC TechNite 2010 Highlights Baltimore's Innovators

Hunt Valley-based Oculis Labs, a cyber security firm, and Tom Loveland, CEO of Mind Over Machines, were the big winners named at the Greater Baltimore Tech Council's (GBTC) TechNite last Thursday. In truth, though, it was the region's tech community as a whole that won. The annual event serves as a fundraiser for the GBTC while also shining the spotlight on some of the area's most innovative technology companies.

Oculis Labs, which took home top honors for the "Hottest Tech in Town," was selected from among 15 finalists. The first-time award was based equally on votes from the public and a panel of judges. Oculis edged out Direct Dimensions, a 3D imaging company, and Gloto, developer of a social media marketing platform, both of which had more votes from the public.

"The judges probably looked at it from a slightly different perspective than the community. These are VC and private equity folks, people who deal with ventures on a regular basis. The judging panel was pretty strict. The community vote was great. We had over 5,000 votes which really blew my mind for a first year competition," says Jennifer Gunner, GBTC's interim executive director.

"I was pleasantly surprised that we won. There are a lot of really good companies in Baltimore doing some really interesting things. It was a really nice surprise to be picked," says Bill Anderson, CEO of Oculis Labs.

Tom Loveland's role as Baltimore's "Google Czar" and the work he's done to help win the Google Fiber competition were only part of the reason he received the GBTC's Beta 2.0 award. Inaugurated in 2009, the award is presented to a person who has done the most to help expand the area's technology and business sectors. Loveland was selected from a group of five finalists that included Newt Fowler, a partner at Rosenberg, Martin, Greenberg LLP,  Christian Johansson, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, Mike Subelsky, founder of Ignite Baltimore, and David Troy, president of Roundhouse Technologies.

"[Loveland's role as Google Czar] is one part of it, but it's also the fact that he's really been pushing things forward. From something as simple as pulling together everyone for a great barbecue at his house, to his work with the National Academy Foundation School, where he's trying to make sure that students have access to the STEM curriculum," Gunner says.

Loveland emphasizes that the projects he's involved in are group efforts and that he shares the award with the other finalists. And, of course, that none of this would be possible if there weren't smart, innovative people starting companies and working on cool technologies in the Baltimore area.

"What we really want to say is that it's not just about us. There are emerging leaders and we want to get them some recognition. All kinds of people are doing things. It's exciting. There's a lot of energy, a lot of programs that are getting people engaged," says Loveland.

The attention the event attracts for tech companies is significant, says Gunner.

"CSA Medical, Social Toaster, Direct Dimensions, and Juxtopia -- all of the companies are impressive. It was a really hard process to narrow it down. The most important thing that we did is to get their names and their products out into the marketplace," Gunner says.

Sources: Jennifer Gunner, GBTC; Bill Anderson, Oculis Labs; Tom Loveland, Mind Over Machines
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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