Two Maryland technology groups are joining forces in a bid to raise the state’s profile as a national hub for innovation, the groups said Monday.
The Technology Council of Maryland, which represents the growing biotech and life sciences corridor in Montgomery County, and Betamore, the Baltimore-based tech incubator, are forming an alliance aimed at strengthening their advocacy efforts in Annapolis, leaders of both associations said.
The decision to unite comes against the backdrop of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s agenda to improve the state’s reputation as a good place to conduct business.
A report by the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission earlier this year said that Maryland had “not nearly reached its potential in growing business and creating jobs.”
The report outlined steps that lawmakers could take to spur growth, including reforming the state’s tax structure, removing regulatory hurdles for businesses and promoting its entrepreneurial ecosystem that would reduce reliance on federal government work.
“Our ultimate goal is to become the leading global destination for entrepreneurship,” said Jennifer Meyer, chief executive officer of Betamore.
The alliance is a step toward achieving that goal by combining the strengths of both organizations, said Philip Schiff, chief executive officer of the technology council.
Betamore benefits from the tech council’s experience at advocacy in the state legislature, he said, while the council can grow its network of members by bringing together the Baltimore and Washington tech communities.
Both organizations will retain their brands and members, but they will hold joint events and act as one voice for technology policy issues. Members will be able to attend combined events at no extra cost and network with each other, the group said.
The union is also meant to act as a catalyst for other regional tech groups to join the alliance, Schiff said.
The first order of business for the group is protecting existing tax credits for tech companies and working to enhance them, he said.
The addition of Betamore’s voice will help make a stronger case to lawmakers in Annapolis about the need to support entrepreneurial talent with more state capital, Schiff said.
State officials are supportive of the alliance, said Benjamin Wu, deputy secretary of Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development.
“There’s a growing recognition among [local] government and industry that working collectively, we can be as powerful and effective as any place in the country,” he said.
With this combination, the group can model Northern Virginia’s brand as a technology hub, he said, and also take a step toward reversing the perception that Maryland lags its neighbor in attracting and retaining technology talent.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council welcomed the move.
“Our entire region is a hub for technology and innovation. Any development that helps us speak with a stronger voice on the global technology stage is a good one,” said Bobbie Kilberg, its president and chief executive officer.
Betamore and the tech council plan to kick off their partnership with a series of joint events.
The first one will be held in September and focus on cybersecurity.