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Best Week, Worst Week: Startups attracting strong investment; MVA head apologizes for voter glitch

best-worst-071418A report released this week showed venture capital-backed startups in Maryland continue to attract strong investment dollars while the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration administrator was forced to apologize to lawmakers for more than 80,000 voters caught up in a programming glitch prior to the June primary vote.

Business writer Tim Curtis reported Thursday the quarterly MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and CB Insights showed Maryland is is poised for one of its best years for investment activity.

Startups raised $247 million last quarter, one of the best quarters posted over the past decade; an official with PwC sees more dollars invested in Maryland this year than last year if the current rate of investment continues.

State startups have already raised 72 percent of the funds they did last year, when $903 million represented one of the two best years for investment over the previous 15 years.

Despite not having any mega-deal rounds in the second quarter, what the state lacked in the dollar volume of the first quarter, it made up for with it more deal activity. There were 23 deals in the second quarter compared to 20 in the year’s first quarter and 17 in last year’s second quarter.

Analysts say more deals, even lower-dollar deals, represents a good sign because investors are interested in the smaller and newer companies that could attract the next mega-deal.

Meanwhile, MVA Administrator Christine Nizer had some explaining to do before legislators this week as she apologized for a voting snafu caused by a computer glitch that affected a number of Maryland voters.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Thursday Nizer apologized and took responsibility for what she called an inadvertent programming mistake during a hearing with members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committees.

The glitch caused headaches for elections officials and voters days before the June 26 primary and could have potentially affected more than 80,000 voters. And while the actual number of  affected voters ended up being much smaller than feared, lawmakers expressed concerns that some who believed they were registered ultimately decided not to cast ballots last month.

Since the glitch was discovered, the contractor who wrote the code has been fired, and the MVA has implemented weekly audits to ensure data transfers occur without further issues and is upgrading its technology, some of which dates back to the early 1970s.

Nizer said the agency is also cooperating with an outside audit to determine if other concerns exist, explaining the agency will do whatever it has to do to make sure the reliability, transparency and the confidence of the “Moter Voter” process is restored.

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