One of Maryland’s most active early-stage investors, the Technology Development Corp. , or TEDCO, has restructured some of its existing programs and added others in hope of funneling more money to the state’s upstarts.
Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998, TEDCO has almost exclusively invested state money to date. That will change under its new programs, which include a series of investment funds backed by private financiers.
TEDCO President and Executive Director Robert Rosenbaum said the changes come after the organization’s leaders observed disconnects between the current market for venture capital and their own investment vehicles.
In March, TEDCO debuted a $4.3 million fund for Baltimore-based companies. It now plans to add a $10 million fund for companies created by military veterans, a $20 million fund for firms founded at regional universities and a $20 million fund for cybersecurity technologies. Much of that capital is not yet raised.
Private funds comes with fewer strings attached than public money, Rosenbaum said, meaning TEDCO can invest in promising ventures outside of the state’s industries of interest and even its borders.
“We do early-stage investing, we do some grants, but it’s very focused on the objective and mission of the state with an eye for economic development as well as investment return,” Rosenbaum said.
“With private money, we take off our state hat ... and invest for returns only.”
Still, Rosenbaum expects much of that private money will find its way to Maryland companies. Most of the potential deals TEDCO encounters are ventures based in the state, and their existing pool of start-ups is one factor that attracts private investors, he said.
“The biggest sort of overarching messaging coming out of this is the entrepreneurial community in this region is continuing to grow,” he said. “We’ve now found a mechanism to compliment state funding ... to help support that engine.”
The programs supported by the state legislature will continue, Rosenbaum said, including the renamed Technology Commercialization Fund that allocates money to promising young ventures. The funding cap will be raised to $100,000.
“You can do a lot with a little bit of money, but the gap between the early money we put in and the angel money continues to be large and was still stalling companies,” Rosenbaum said. “By increasing our amount, we were able to shrink that gap.”
Other programs include the new Maryland Innovation Initiative, a $5.8 million fund that began late last year to commercialize university technology, as well as new programs that help companies to validate their technology’s commercial viability and pursue patents.
Gaithersburg-based Amplimmune will partner with a Japanese pharmaceutical company on the development of a therapeutic protein that could be used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases if found effective.
As part of the agreement, Tokyo-based Daiichi Sankyo will pay an undisclosed option fee and shell out more than $50 million to cover research and development expenses. In return, Daiichi Sankyo has the right to purchase the protein down the road.
The protein would help treat autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, by blocking inflammatory T cell differentiation, the companies said. They plan to begin a clinical study in the first half of the year.