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Full board means TEDCO can begin investments again

Linda Singh (Submitted photo)

Linda Singh, TEDCO’s interim CEO (Submitted photo)

The state agency responsible for supporting Maryland’s tech startup ecosystem can begin investing in companies again, nearly a year after a critical audit led to reforms by the legislature.

TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, announced Thursday the appointment of the nine members of the reconstituted Maryland Venture Fund Authority, which oversees TEDCO disbursements from four funds.

TEDCO can immediately begin investing in firms through the Rural Business Innovation Initiative, Builder Fund, Seed Fund and Maryland Venture Fund. The agency had opened applications for the funds earlier this year.

Of the nine board members, seven were appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan and require Senate confirmation: Aaron Eidelman, Grace Kee-Yang Garry, Ann E. Quinn, Michael Murray Thielke, Michael S. Tumbarello, Renee M. Winsky and David W. Wise.

The two remaining members, Brian Darmody and Eileen O’Rourke, were appointed by the Senate president and the House speaker. 

“We are pleased to welcome our new MVF Authority members,” Linda Singh, TEDCO’s interim CEO, said in a statement. “They join at an exciting time for TEDCO as we continue to drive innovation to market and help to build strong companies in Maryland.”

A legislative audit issued in February last year found issues that included how TEDCO directed funding to companies that were not primarily based in Maryland and invested in companies that had associations with the Maryland Venture Fund’s advisory committee.

In the aftermath of the audit, lawmakers put more restrictions in place to govern how TEDCO invests its money and what oversights are in place to govern the agency.

One of the lawmakers’ requirements was that TEDCO develop an application process for its investment programs, a process TEDCO finished earlier this month.

Another element of the legislation barred additional advisory boards to the venture fund authority, whether formal or informal. It also requires that the board meet at least quarterly.

The funds under the authority have not invested in any startups since July while TEDCO developed new regulations and created that new application process.

The most significant fund that can begin investing again is the Maryland Venture Fund. The fund has more than $135 million in assets under its management and provides early-stage venture capital for Maryland technology startups.

The other funds help companies at earlier stages of the startup life cycle or help businesses with leaders from different backgrounds.

The Rural Business Innovation Initiative provides funding and mentorship for companies from Maryland’s rural areas.

The Builder Fund is designed to provide pre-seed funding, mentorship and resources to companies with leaders from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have easy access to capital or other resources.

The Seed Fund invests in seed-stage companies.

The appointment of the reconstituted board and the ability to invest immediately were two of the final steps for TEDCO as it looks to rebound from a year of change and oversight following the audit.

The agency has had seen some significant leadership changes as well. Former CEO George Davis and venture fund chief investment officer Andy Jones left last year. 

Singh and Elizabeth Good Mazhari, managing director of the venture fund, are both serving on an interim basis.

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