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Grotech Ventures has been selected as the first private venture capital firm to receive funds to invest through the state’s $84 million InvestMaryland program.

The newly launched program has previously given awards directly to early stage technology companies.

Grotech Ventures, with offices in Hunt Valley and Tysons Corner, Va., received $12 million from InvestMaryland to invest in early-stage companies in Maryland. If the investments are successful, the firm is expected to repay the funds and 80 percent of the profits to the state.

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Cerecor Inc today announced that it has signed an option with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) for an exclusive license to develop and commercialize small molecule D-Amino Acid Oxidase inhibitors ("DAAO inhibitors") that were developed at the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute ("BSi").

DAAO inhibitors inhibit the degradation of D-serine, an amino acid which has a central role in the normal function of the glutamate / NMDA system in the human brain.  Growing evidence suggests that deficits in glutamate transmission are central to the neurobiology of schizophrenia.  D-serine, when administered in multi-gram quantities per day, has been shown in multiple studies to improve cognition (executive function) and reduce positive symptoms in schizophrenics. DAAO inhibition in the brain, as a means of increasing D-serine levels, has been a target for treating schizophrenia by major pharmaceutical companies for many years. 

umd-medical-center

The University of Maryland Medical Center is one of the nation’s top hospitals, according to the annual Leapfrog Group survey. This is the seventh year UMMC has received this distinction.

The Leapfrog Group survey analyzes patient safety and quality performance measures from almost 1,200 hospitals. UMMC is one of only two hospitals in the U.S. (and the only one on the East Coast) to make the list every year since it began in 2006.

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Baltimore’s newest incubator is officially open for business — and class.

Betamore, located at 1111 Light St. in Federal Hill, aims to help grow technology companies by day and teach the next generation of entrepreneurs by night. The incubator will host technology companies developing products for Internet and mobile devices and offer co-working space for freelancers and contractors in other technology sectors. After work hours, the entrepreneurs from tenant companies and other experts in the area will teach classes on practical technology and entrepreneurship skills, like Web development and pitching to investors.

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While accelerators may be in a bubble, they’re also beginning to have a measurable, positive impact on the ecosystem. The real opportunity, though, is not in creating another Y Combinator, but in building vertical-specific accelerators that bring together industry partnerships to create learning and business opportunities for their startups. In healthtech, there’s Rock Health, Blueprint, Healthbox, New York Digital Health Accelerator and Startup Health to name a few.

The roster is growing, and today we have another addition to the list from veteran accelerator DreamIt Ventures. Today, DreamIt is partnering with Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and The University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine) to create a digital health accelerator, designed to provide with entrepreneurs with the resources they need to take advantage of opportunities in the changing landscape of the health industry.

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KQED and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation each invested $1.25 million in Matter Ventures, a media startup accelerator they've created with help from Public Radio Exchange.

Corey Ford, who ran the accelerator Runway, is CEO of Matter Ventures.

The accelerator -- publicized last year as Public Media Accelerator -- will pick startups for its four month program and pay them a $50,000 investment as they work in shared space in the South Park area of San Francisco.

chesapeake-crescent-initiative

A new $50 million investment fund will provide seed capital to launch new businesses that use technologies from government and university research labs in the Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

The Chesapeake Regional Innovation Fund will provide seed capital for startups and emerging technology companies focused on innovations in energy, life sciences and security. The first investments are anticipated for later in 2013.

laptop-healthcare

Early stage startups already see New York as a hub for media, advertising and fashion. But the city is starting to build up its name in health tech as well.

At the start of this year, both Startup Health and Blueprint Health – two incubator-type programs that provide funding, mentorship and connections – announced their first classes of startups.  Then, in October, the New York Digital Health Accelerator, backed by the New York eHealth Collaborative nonprofit and the private New York City Fund, introduced its own batch of health tech startups.

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NHLBI Funding and Research Opportunities

The following funding opportunities from the NHLBI or other components of the National Institutes of Health, might be of interest:

NIH Guide Notice:

Program Announcement (PA):

Please note that most links to RFAs, PAs, and Guide Notices will take you to the NIH Web site. RFPs will take you to FedBizOpps. Links to RFPs will not work past their proposal receipt date. Archived versions of RFPs posted on FedBizOpps can be found on the FedBizOpps site using the FedBizOpps search function. Under “Document to Search,” select Archived Documents.

towson-university-logo

As of Friday, the Division of Economic and Community Outreach changed its name to the Division of Innovation and Applied Research.

The department “serves as a point of entry for businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community members interested in collaborating with the University,” according to Towson’s website.

The name change is a small part of the work that Dyan Brasington, the vice president for Division of Innovation and Applied Research, is doing under President Maravene Loeschke.

Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins University performed $2.1 billion in medical, science, and engineering research in fiscal 2011, making it the leading U.S. academic institution in total research and development spending for the 33rd year in a row, according to a new National Science Foundation ranking.

The university also once again ranked first on the NSF's separate list for federally funded research and development, spending $1.88 billion in FY2011 on research supported by NSF, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense. In FY2002, Johns Hopkins became the first university to reach the $1 billion mark on either list, recording $1.14 billion in total research and $1.023 billion in federally sponsored research that year.

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A Maryland biotechnology company is pushing for the state to expand eligibility to a pool of money from tobacco companies that funds anti-smoking and health programs.

20/20 Gene Systems Inc., a Rockville-based company, is requesting that $2 million in grants be made available for research into new screening and treatment methods that could lower mortality rates due to cancer. The money would come from the state’s Cigarette Restitution Fund.

leggett-ike-mont-county

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett wants to provide some high-tech companies with capital in exchange for ownership stakes in the businesses, a first for a local jurisdiction.

Leggett’s economic development team hopes to have such a bill before the County Council in two weeks. The proposal would be similar to Maryland’s State Challenge Investment Program, said Peter Bang, chief operating officer for the county’s Department of Economic Development.

money-tree-report

Venture capitalists invested $7.0 billion in 898 deals in the second quarter of 2012, according to the MoneyTree™ Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters. Quarterly venture capital investment activity climbed 17 percent in terms of dollars and 11 percent in the number of deals compared to the first quarter of 2012 when $6.0 billion was invested in 809 deals.

The number of Early stage deals reached the highest quarterly total since the first quarter 2001, with $2.1 billion going into 410 deals, an 18 percent increase in dollars and a 28 percent increase in deals from the prior quarter. The Internet-specific sector also saw increases during the second quarter, rising 22 percent in dollars and 31 percent in deals from the prior quarter to $1.8 billion going into 261 deals in the second quarter.

johns-hopkins-kimmel-cancer-center

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have combined the ability to detect cancer DNA in the blood with genome sequencing technology in a test that could be used to screen for cancers, monitor cancer patients for recurrence and find residual cancer left after surgery.

"This approach uses the power of genome sequencing to detect circulating tumor DNA in the blood, providing a sensitive method that can be used to detect and monitor cancers," says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology and co-director of the Cancer Biology Program at Johns Hopkins.