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Eight MCE Businesses Named Finalists for Incubator Company of the Year

The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) has announced that eight Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) resident, affiliate and graduate companies are among the 22 finalists for the 15th Annual Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards (ICOY).

The 2015 MCE finalists are Hungry Harvest, Milestone Sports, Vheda Health, Vitus Vet and Zavda Technologies, which are resident companies at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship; Care Progress and Spend Consciously, affiliate companies; and Audacious Inquiry, an MCE graduate.

The ICOY Awards publicly recognize achievements by current clients and graduates of Maryland incubators and provide a forum for the nominees to increase their visibility in the business, technology and investment communities. Since 2001, the awards have honored more than 100 new and early-stage companies for their achievements. Award recipients have been selected from the health technology, consumer goods, computer technology, life science and green technology industries. “Entrepreneurs in Maryland continue to thrive in our growing incubator network,” said Rob Rosenbaum, president and executive director of TEDCO. “The Incubator Company of the Year Awards is an opportunity to highlight Maryland’s impressive incubator system and recognize the breadth and depth of technology talent that we have throughout Maryland.”

The MCE currently has 22 resident companies and 59 affiliates. MCE firms have received more than $1 million in investments, grants and awards since January 2014. This year’s winners will be announced during the ICOY Awards Ceremony at the American Visionary Art Museum on Thursday, June 4.

Kittleman Launches Open Data Portal to Increase Government Transparency

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced the launch of OpenHoward, a new data portal on www.howardcounty.gov. OpenHoward was developed to increase transparency and provide data to the public in a user-friendly way, making more information easily available to residents.

“We now have a centralized platform for collecting and sharing government data with the public,” Kittleman said. “I believe strongly in open and transparent government, and this is an important step to help increase responsiveness and improve efficiency. I thank [Howard] County Council members Greg Fox and Jen Terrasa for their leadership in passing Council Bill 32-2014, which started this process.”

The goal of this portal is to transform government data assets into productive information resources that people can easily access, share and reuse. “By sharing data in an open and transparent manner, we empower our residents and employees to access information anywhere, anytime,” said Christopher Merdon, Howard County’s director of technology and communication services.

This open data “beta” launch is intended to showcase how data will be delivered. Initially, the site displays 52 data sets, 17 maps and three charts. For example, records of emergency vehicle dispatch and arrival times are available, as are non-emergency service requests made through Tell HoCo, a mobile and web-based application. Although currently in its beginning stage, the site will continue to grow as new data sets become available from county agencies.

Data collected and made available to the public through the OpenHoward portal is the first phase of a larger initiative championed by Kittleman called HoCoStat. Future phases of HoCoStat will include analyzing data to heighten accountability and measure outcomes for all county departments and agencies. The OpenHoward data portal can be accessed at www.howardcountymd.gov by clicking on the OpenData logo at the bottom of the page.

Maryland Live! Launches Giant Jackpots Slots Program

Maryland Live! Casino has debuted Giant Jackpots, a new mystery progressive slots program that guarantees jackpot wins from $50,000 up to $100,000. It officially launched on Thursday, May 28.

The Giant Jackpots program is the first of its kind in Maryland. Each jackpot will start at $50,000 and grow every time an eligible guest makes a spin on an eligible slot machine (excluding video poker and electronic table games) with his or her Live! Rewards Card or new Giant Jackpots Card properly inserted.

The jackpot increases until somebody wins, and somebody is guaranteed to win by the time the Giant Jackpot reaches $100,000. Once the prize is awarded, the Giant Jackpot resets back to $50,000, and it starts over.

“Giant Jackpots will allow us to attract new slot customers who may not have played at Maryland Live! before,” said Robert Norton, president and general manager of Maryland Live! “As the Giant Jackpots meter advances, the energy on the casino floor will keep building and building because players will know it’s going to hit by the time it reaches $100,000. It’s not only a game changer for the market, but a potential life changer for the lucky winners.”

Howard County Releases 2015 Point-in-Time Data

The Howard County Department of Citizen Services has announced that the number of individuals and households counted as homeless in Howard County, identified, through the national Point-in-Time count, has declined for the third year in a row. In 2012, 150 households composed of 230 individuals were homeless. The department’s most recent count, which it conducts annually at the end of each January, found 104 households with a total of 166 individuals to be homeless in Howard County.

The decline in the number of homeless individuals in Howard County coincides with the launch of the county’s Coordinated System of Homeless Services (CSHS) in September 2012. CSHS came as a recommendation of the county’s “Plan to End Homelessness” initiative and now integrates the services of 13 nonprofit and government agencies.

“Thanks to the overwhelming commitment of key nonprofit agencies and county departments, we are on track to make homelessness a brief and rare occurrence most of the time,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “I am pleased that we are able to continue funding this important initiative even in difficult budget times.”

Combining the efforts of the CSHS with creative housing options is the next critical step to meeting the plan’s goals. A county project to build efficiency apartments on the second floor of the new Day Resource Center in Jessup will fill a significant gap in resources needed for the county’s chronically homeless. The annual Point-in-Time count is used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to track the number of homeless individuals in the United States.

Ciena to Acquire Cyan for $400M

Hanover-based Ciena Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cyan Inc., a provider of next-generation software and platforms to enable open, agile and scalable software-defined networks.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ciena will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Cyan in a cash and stock transaction currently valued at approximately $400 million (or $335 million, net of estimated cash acquired) and inclusive of Cyan’s outstanding convertible notes on an as-converted basis.

Cyan offers software-defined networking, network functions virtualization, and metro packet-optical solutions, which have built a customer base that is complementary to Ciena. Cyan also provides multi-vendor network and service orchestration and next-generation network management software with advanced visualization.

“Ciena is transforming networks by applying web-scale technologies for delivering greater efficiency, network automation and agility while driving the industry toward an open ecosystem,” said Gary Smith, president and CEO of Ciena. “The addition of Cyan accelerates the availability of a complete solution for our customers to deliver virtualized networks and services on-demand.”

CARE Pharmacies, Aureus Health Services Announce Partnership

Linthicum-based CARE Pharmacies Cooperative, a growing independent retail chain, and Aureus Health Services, a national specialty pharmacy and health services company and portfolio company of BelHealth Investment Partners, announced their partnership in a specialty pharmacy management services program.

The specialty pharmacy industry is rapidly growing, with specialty drugs expected to rise to 50% of the total drug spend by 2018. Additionally, eight out of the top 10 drugs by revenue will be specialty drugs by the year 2016. Under the partnership, Aureus will provide management services to CARE member pharmacies and provide resources to support the growing needs of their specialty patients and providers.

“We looked at a number of potential partners to assist us in providing a higher level of care to our specialty patients, and Aureus was the best. Aureus’s highly trained support team and comprehensive care management model offers a level of support and expertise required to ensure the very best outcomes for our customers,” said Mike Wysong, CEO of CARE.

“We are very excited to partner with CARE and their unique network of pharmacies. The CARE Pharmacies Specialty Network will provide a convenient and valuable choice for specialty patients, and this partnership will further enhance the support and services needed to improve patient care,” said Michael Nameth, CEO of Aureus.

Exelon, Pepco Holdings Pledge to Fulfill Conditions in Merger Order

Exelon Corp. and Pepco Holdings Inc. have announced that the companies have completed their review of the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) order approving their merger and have committed to fulfilling the modified, more stringent conditions and package of customer benefits imposed by the commission.

The Exelon-Pepco Holdings merger will bring together Exelon’s three electric and gas utilities — BGE, ComEd and PECO — and Pepco Holdings’ three electric and gas utilities — Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco — to create the leading mid-Atlantic electric and gas utility.

The merger still requires approvals by the PSC of the District of Columbia and the Delaware Public Service Commission. On Feb. 13, Exelon reached a settlement agreement with staff of the Delaware Public Service Commission and other stakeholders, and the agreement is pending approval by the commission.

Following the expiration of the U.S. Department of Justice’s review period on Dec. 22, 2014, the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act no longer precludes completion of the merger; the transaction was approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November, the Virginia State Corporation Commission in October and PHI stockholders in September. The companies expect to complete the merger in the second or third quarter of 2015.

Inovalon Supports ACA Data Analytics, EDGE Server Submissions in 48 States

Bowie-based Inovalon delivered nearly 100 cloud-based, SaaS EDGE server solution implementations for clients operating Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 48 states, ahead of the April 30 deadline for EDGE submissions to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Health plans that offer commercial coverage for individuals and small groups under the ACA are required to submit data pertaining to membership, medical encounters, pharmacy and other information to HHS on a regular basis.

This data, submitted into what is referred to as an EDGE server environment, is used by HHS to make risk adjustment and reinsurance calculations. Each plan is required to deploy and manage an EDGE server for such data submissions under very strict technical specifications, with the data playing a key role in their financial performance calculations.

“The first-year setting for the ACA presented real-world challenges for health care organizations looking to navigate the fluid technical specifications of the HHS data reporting environment,” said Dan Rizzo, chief innovation officer of Inovalon, “Our implementation of the HHS-compliant EDGE server solution in a cloud-based, SaaS model proved to be an excellent demonstration of Inovalon’s end-market expertise in health care data integration, normalization and analysis – providing for rapid capability responsiveness across all EDGE servers as updates were released from HHS and new data phenomena emerged within the marketplace.”

Hogan Announces Enhanced Funding for Startup Companies

Gov. Larry Hogan has announced enhanced funding opportunities for technology startup companies through the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO). TEDCO’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) and Cybersecurity Investment Fund (CIF) now will provide up to $225,000 to support projects that advance a technology toward commercialization in Maryland.

In addition, TEDCO is broadening the scope of the TCF program by eliminating certain eligibility requirements. This change opens the door for more Maryland companies to participate in the program.

“Providing the right tools and resources to our entrepreneurs is critical to building a diverse economic foundation,” said Hogan. “TEDCO’s funding programs fill the critical gap between the development phase and launch phase in the life of a startup company. The more financial support we can provide to our startups, the faster they will get to the commercial launch stage, and create jobs in communities all across Maryland.”

The enhanced funding will be issued in the form of a new, second investment that follows the standard TCF/CIF investment. The standard initial investment of $100,000 will support projects that advance a technology toward commercialization. The second investment, which will be subject to concurrent qualified financing, will be in the amount of $125,000. This funding will support further development before startup companies are ready to launch a product, and it will create an incentive for other investment. The enhanced funding will be available to all companies that closed on a TCF or CIF investment after Nov. 1, 2014.

“Startups often require follow-on funding to support further development to generate revenues,” said Rob Rosenbaum, president and executive director of TEDCO. “TEDCO’s goal is to bridge this funding gap and help build successful companies to spur economic development in this region.”