Maryland should pay half the cost of building subsidized quarters for fledgling technology businesses and should start with two projects in the Washington suburbs next year, the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development recommended yesterday.
Maryland has compiled a strong record of helping new businesses get started in its technology "incubators," and firms that graduate from the subsidized quarters have a good survival rate and record of jobs growth, DEED's report said.
But the state has only five such facilities, of which only four have been in existence three years or more, and they offer a total of just 75,000 square feet of working space, or less than one-sixteenth of the 1.7 million square feet available in neighboring Pennsylvania, according to the report.
"Clearly, Maryland needs more incubators in order to spur the growth of technology-related start-ups, commercialize our research discoveries and advance the individual economic development goals of local communities," DEED Secretary Mark L. Wasserman said in releasing the report.
In 1995, the governor's capital budget should include reconstruction of the existing business incubator at the University of Maryland at College Park and construction of a new Maryland Technology Center at the National Institute of Standards and Technology campus in Gaithersburg, the report said.
The state's half of the College Park project would be under $6 million, and the state half of the Montgomery County project would be about $4 million, said Mitchell Horowitz, the DEED technology adviser who prepared the report. The balances would be paid for out of university funds and by Montgomery County, respectively.
The report also recommends that the state create a Statewide Incubator/Technology Enterprise (SITE) board, dominated by private-sector members, that would work with DEED to oversee a new plan. The plan would provide guidance and 50 percent financing to universities, local governments and other government and quasi-government agencies that want to establish technology business incubators, the report said. In Maryland's fledgling incubator network, the report found that a total of 21 technology companies have "graduated," after staying between 24 and 30 months, and 16 of those businesses are still in existence. These "graduate" companies had a total of 179 employees when they left the incubators and have grown to employ 313.