The Maryland Department of Commerce announced its Future 20 list of the state’s most innovative startups on Nov. 17.
The list includes bioscience and technology companies specializing in everything from quantum computing and medical devices to aquaculture and software for 21st century windmills. The companies are mostly from Baltimore and Prince George’s County.
None of the 20 companies on the Maryland’s Future list are based on the Mid-Shore or Lower Shore. There is one company from Cecil County — Clene Nanomedicine in North East.
The lack of Eastern Shore representation on innovation and economic development lists such as Maryland’s Future List needs to change.
We know there are great small businesses, and creative and innovative minds here on the Shore.
We have entrepreneurs with great ideas who are creating new business models and jobs.
One of our priorities for 2021 needs to be to support, recognize and cultivate existing innovative local companies.
We also need to find ways to foster and grow new businesses across the Shore. Our economy and jobs base need to find the right places and opportunities to grow and diversify.
The lifestyle, natural beauty and history of the Shore make it a great place to live. The Mid-Shore, in particular, has a vibrant arts community with plenty of talent across various media.
We need the same vibrancy and creativity for our economy.
We have to propel our economy and jobs into the 21st century. There is a need to better grow and promote the innovators and small businesses making a difference here.
The economy is changing rapidly. We all know that. Whether it’s COVID-19, Amazon.com or social media, our jobs, careers and businesses are changing.
Our communities on the Shore cannot get left behind. There are too many jobs at stake.
We know there are already innovative local companies in the aquaculture, technology, agriculture and medical sectors on the Mid-Shore and other parts of the Delmarva Peninsula.
They are sometimes flying under the radar and just need to be recognized to gain traction and funding.
We also know there are great business ideas sitting out there on kitchen tables, in garages and on laptops. Some of those ideas are coming out of all the stresses and strains of 2020. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is the long-wise quote from Plato. We have plenty of the former this year with all the impacts of the virus.
Our budding local entrepreneurs and inventors often need the right break or the right connection at the right time to carry them forward.
The Mid-Shore, in particular, has many part-time, retired and semi-retired residents who have senior experience with major corporations and starting and growing new companies. We need to find ways of getting all that talent and experience better engaged with our communities and helping grow local companies.
Our seasonal and retired neighbors can help serve as mentors to young entrepreneurs, or they can serve as partners in ventures that can make our communities and beyond better places to live and work.
Maryland has an encouraging crop of startups across the state.
We just need to work to get some companies from the Eastern Shore on the list next year and beyond.