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Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland to build research and science center in East Baltimore

The state's two major research institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park , are partnering to build a research and science center in East Baltimore opening September 2014. The state is spending $27 million and Hopkins is contributing $3 million toward the $30 million public/private venture whose goal is to make Maryland’s universities and private industry more competitive in the sciences.

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will consist of multiple buildings on land leased from Hopkins on its 350-acre Bayview Medical campus, at 4940 Eastern Ave. Expected to break ground in November, the center will be set off from other buildings and have its own separate entrance. The universities will finish site design this month and then bid the project to vendors. 
While the facility is unique in Maryland, other states, notably Massachusetts and New York, have launched similar data centers. Hopkins' vice provost of research Scott Zeger says the facility will allow the two universities to compete in scientific fields. Last year, faculty and administrators at Johns Hopkins and UMCP formed a scientific governing group to oversee the facility. 
“We are building a world-class facility,” he says, that will spur public/private partnerships in scientific research and hopefully create spinoff companies. 

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will be used for fields whose solutions require “extreme computation,” says Zeger. These include big data, cybersecurity, language processing, genomics and molecular chemistry.
The center will consist of a small administrative building for the four to five people who will operate the facility and smaller buildings to hold the computing and storage equipment. The center will initially consist of one building to hold equipment but there is room on the site for up to five such structures. 
Zeger says the construction of subsequent buildings depends on state funding, federal grants and partnerships with other universities in the region and private industry. The facility's operating cost is put at $3 million to $5 million per year, and Zeger expects partnerships and other funding to defray the cost.
According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, money for the project has been designated in the capital budgets for FY 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Source: Scott Zeger, Johns Hopkins University
Writer: Barbara Pash


Defense contractor hiring up to 25 for new Harford County office

Sigmatech, Inc. is hiring 20 to 25 people for its first office in Maryland. Based in Huntsville, Ala., the defense service provider opened its first Maryland office in May in Belcamp, near Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.

The office started off with a staff of two but Brian Simmons, senior vice president for Washington, D.C., and APG operations, says he is looking to add system engineers, scientists and acquisiton experts by the end of this year.

“We are interested in supporting the U.S. Army at APG. What they do is different from Huntsville,” site of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Simmons says.
“Every other weapons program comes through APG at some point,” says Simmons. With future contracts in “R&D (research and development), test evaluation, foreign military sales and security assistance to allies at APG, my goal is for the office to pay for itself by the end of the year.” 
Sigmatech opened its first office outside its Alabama headquarters last year in Crystal City, Va., to serve the northern Virginia-Washington, D.C., market. The private company has 320 employees, two-thirds of them in Huntsville, and $60 million in annual revenue.
Sigmatech’s APG office is located in the Water’s Edge Corporate Campus. “It is a bold move for us because of cutbacks, a tight market. But the timing is right for us,” says Simmons. “We need to grow and bolster our technical talent.”
Simmons says the company was particularly interested in APG because after the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, several large military-defense agencies moved there.
“After Huntsville, APG is the next largest Army hub for weapons development and acquisition, new R&D, computers and intelligence,” he says.
Simmons expects to expand Sigmatech’s e-learning courses to future clients at APG. Based on a topic chosen by the client, the company designs a curriculum and develops a web-based instructional course. For example, one client was the United States Military Academy West Point, for which Sigmatech developed a course for its counter-terrorism center.
Source: Brian Simmons, Sigmatech, Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Live Jazz and Barbeque Comes to Mount Vernon

Phaze 10 opened this month in Mount Vernon and plans to offer American food, specialty drinks and live entertainment such as jazz and open-mic nights. While the business will start in Baltimore, the company eventually plans to expand to additional locations outside the area, Managing Partner Tony Randall says.
The restaurant currently employs 24 and is hiring for additional bartenders, servers and cooks. 
The multi-level, 6,000-square-foot, upscale restaurant and carry-out grill at 855 N. Howard St. offers Southern food with a Caribbean twist including barbeque spare ribs, salmon and crab cakes, Randall says.
Prices range from $15 to $25 for an entree in the restaurant, and entrees from $5 to $15 in the grill carryout location.
Randall wants to create a location for a mature crowd that enjoys the atmosphere and nightlife of D.C. or Philadelphia, but with the unique spirit of Baltimore and closer to home.
"We tried to create a place that we imagined we'd like to go to," Randall says.
The restaurant will focus on bringing live jazz and neo-soul acts in addition to open-mic nights and comedy. It has live entertainment slated Wednesday through Saturday nights.
A Baltimore native and graduate of Morgan State University, Randall has long been involved with the music and entertainment industry in Baltimore. A 30-year IT professional, Randall and his business associates founded a computer-consulting firm, TT Systems Inc. and the partners have invested in the new business together.
Source: Tony Randall, managing partner of Phaze 10
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Co-working Space in Little Italy to Expand

Capital Studios is expanding its co-working space in Little Italy as it gets more interest from the independent contractor who want someone besides her dog as an office companion.

The company just signed a lease to add another 1,000 square feet of space by May, Partner Michael Morris says. That will bring it up to a total of 3,740 square feet.

With 21 members, it has nearly maxed out of space since opening in June, Morris says. It has enough room for 22 workers on any given day. 

Members pay $25 for a day pass or $300 for a monthly pass. With a copier, fax machine, two conference rooms and a projector, it's a step up from working at a coffee shop.

Its clients include software engineers, real estate brokers, sales reps, writers and entrepreneurs.

Capital Studios joins other co-working spaces, Beehive Baltimore and Sizeable Spaces. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michael Morris, Capital Studios

Coppin to Ask State for $42M for Science and Technology Center

Coppin State University plans to ask the state for $46 million in the 2012 General Assembly session for the design and construction of its planned Science and Technology Center.

If approved, the university in West Baltimore hopes to break ground on the $80 million center this fall, says Maqbool Patel, Coppin's associate vice president for administration and finance. The center will house the departments of natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science.

The university is currently in the process of buying more than 200 row houses in the neighborhood to make room for the center. The university has acquired 158 properties thus far, and should have all properties purchased by June, Patel says.

The historically black college wants to modernize its facilities to be able to compete with schools around the nation, says Patel, who describes Coppin's current science facilities to be "pretty poor, at best."

Patel believes that the new science and technology center will also improve Coppin's ability to recruit students, as well as help improve the school's graduation rate.

The planned building will include green technologies such as rainwater collection for irrigation and will be designed to minimize energy use.

If the project is approved in its final phase, the construction will employ up to 250. Coppin plans to encourage the participation of minority-owned businesses involved in Maryland's minority business enterprise for its construction.

Additionally, Coppin hopes to provide community access to a computer lab in the center.

Other recent constructions on Coppin’s campus include a physical education center and a health and human services building.

Coppin has 3,813 enrolled undergraduates, of which 381 are science majors. The school wants to grow enrollment 30 percent by 2019. One of the university's priorities is to increase the number of science and technology majors, research initiatives and grants.   

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Maqbool Patel, Coppin State

Nanotechnology Company Hiring Ten Employees

A nanotechnology company is on the hunt for 10 new employees as it expands its manufacturing capacity.

Pixelligent LLC, which moved from College Park to Baltimore in the spring, is hiring business development and other executive-level staff, engineers, and technicians, CEO Craig Bandes says.

Pixelligent and its partner, Brewer Science Inc., received an $8.2 million award from National Institute of Standards and Technology last year, as well as other government grants and equity financing.

The company, which employs 15, occupies an 11,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Holabird Business Park in Southeast Baltimore.

Bandes says the company moved to Baltimore because it has a great pool of qualified employees and is close to the airport and major highways.

“I think it’s going to help us build the company."

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Craig Bandes, Pixelligent
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