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Baltimore-based incubator wants private/public partnership

The Emerging Technology Centers, a nonprofit Baltimore-based tech and biotech business incubator, is looking for permission to create private/public partnerships to grow and possibly expand into new industries.

Ann Lansinger, Executive Director for Emerging Technology Centers

The Emerging Technology Centers operates a business incubator program with two facilities, focused on growing early-stage technology and biotechnology companies in Baltimore City. ETC also receives funding from the city and therefore needs permission from the city Board of Ethics and the Board of Estimates to pursue private sponsorship deals.

The Board of Ethics has given its initial approval for the plan, and the Board of Estimates is set to vote on the matter on Wednesday. If the board approves, the ethics board will have to give final approval before the ETC can begin courting corporate and other private sector sponsors.

Executive Director Ann Lansinger said she is optimistic that with approval, the ETC would be able to easily find new sponsors. She said the Baltimore area is home to entrepreneurs and civic-minded corporations that would be a perfect fit to sponsor the ETC.

“There are people, and companies here who have an affinity for what we’re trying to do,” Lansinger said. “I think it will be a win-win for everyone if we work together to grow these small tech companies.”

Lansinger said the decision to seek partnerships was not due to worrying about city government support, which was increased this year.

“The mayor and the city have been very kind to us, and this plan is not a sign of insecurity,” Lansinger said. “Our position is very good with the city. This is an attempt to broaden and diversify our support.”

She also said it will put the incubator’s clients in front of businesses, giving them new opportunities.

ETC, founded in 1999, is a venture of the Baltimore Development Corp., which along with Baltimore City provides revenue to the nonprofit. Companies at the ETC include marketing firm R2 Integrated and The Intune, a startup that has created a web-based application for online, live music lessons.

There are 83 companies affiliated with the ETC, most of which are in office space at the incubator’s two facilities — the ETC@Canton and the ETC@Eastern, in the old Eastern High School.

Since its founding, there have been 235 companies that have graduated and left the incubator.

Lansinger said ETC follows up on the graduating companies for five years to see if they remain viable. She said they have a success rate of 70 to 80 percent with companies still being viable after five years.