Eight Maryland companies were honored Thursday at the state’s Incubator Company of the Year awards, with mobile phone ad firm Millennial Media Inc. entering the hall of fame.
“Getting success out into the public awareness is important for the entrepreneur already in business and folks interested in starting businesses,” said Robert A. Rosenbaum, president and executive director of the Maryland Technology Development Corp. “People want to be recognized for what they do, and we don’t do enough of that here [in Maryland]. We’re getting better, but we still don’t do enough.”
The event, which took place at the Center Club, is in its 12th year and is organized by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, TEDCO, McGladrey LLP and Saul Ewing LLP. Six of the winning companies are part of an area incubator, while the “Graduate” category winner is a company that has recently left its incubator.
LiveHealthier Inc., which works with companies to create employee wellness programs, won the ICOY Information Technology award in 2007 and graduated from the Rockville Innovation Center in 2010.
Since graduating from the incubator, the company has grown from five clients and eight employees to more than 32 clients and 55 employees, said Philip M. Bogart, an attorney at Saul Ewing and one of the judges and co-chairs of the awards. LiveHealthier has also outgrown its 3,500-square-foot office and is moving into a 15,000-square-foot space later this month.
“They weren’t acquired, but they did it on their own,” Bogart said.
About 30 companies applied for the awards, and three finalists were chosen for each of the seven categories. Members of the about 40-person selection interviewed each of the finalists before choosing the winners.
Judges considered factors such as technology or product development, intellectual property, increases in employees, growth in revenue, customer and strategic partner relationships, outside investors and self-sufficiency.
“Many, many of these companies are just so close to kind of turning the corner, it was a tough decision,” Bogart said.
The awards were founded by Eric G. Orlinsky and Robert A. Spar of Saul Ewing, Brian S. Meritt of McGladrey and Phil Singerman, founding executive director of TEDCO.
“At that time, if you think about back in the late ’90s, before the crash, all these technology stories were occurring from Silicon Valley to the East Coast, and I said to him, ‘Phil, we need to recognize those companies in Maryland that are doing great things,’” Meritt said.
After Spar died in 2008, the hall of fame winner became known as the Robert A. Spar Hall of Fame Inductee.
Millennial Media was chosen this year because “in the past year, Millennial has enjoyed a lot of great success,” Meritt said. The company filed for an initial public offering in January, valuing its stock at $75 million.
Chris Brandenburg, co-founder and chief technology officer of Millennial Media, was the night’s keynote speaker. His company received the ICOY Information Technology award in 2008.
Cyber/Homeland Security: StormCenter Communications Inc.
Graduate: LiveHealthier Inc.
Green Company: SemaConnect Inc.
Information Technology: 6thStreetCommerce
Life Sciences: Noxilizer
New Incubator Company: Subject7 LLC
Technology Professional Services: Meridian BioGroup LLC
Robert A. Spar Hall of Fame Inductee: Millennial Media