Montgomery County has created a culture that attracts entrepreneurial talent and supports the growth of startup enterprises in leading-edge fields including biotech and cybersecurity.
No fewer than 31 Montgomery County-based companies are on the Inc.’s 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America, including Bethesda’s Green Generation Solutions (No. 380 in 2016).
One of the organizations supporting the development of local technology-oriented endeavors is BioHealth Innovation.
“Our organization is a nonprofit that was founded five years ago in partnership with Montgomery County and the private sector to support technology development projects coming out of universities and federal laboratories,” says Ethan Byler, managing director of economic development for BioHealth Innovation. “We’re trying to foster companies to the point where they have the capital and the right management and business team in place so they can [successfully] operate.”
In particular, BioHealth Innovation supports companies that are working to promote innovative scientific discoveries.
“Our focus is on anything technology-oriented that is changing health care, whether that’s a drug, device, or diagnostic. We try to match companies with resources and possibly remove any barriers that may keep them from moving forward,” he says.
Resources such as the Montgomery County Business Innovation Network, founded by Montgomery County Economic Development in 1999, support development of innovation businesses and offer local entrepreneurs facilities, services, and an environment in which they can prosper.
The Silver Spring Innovation Center (SSIC), one of several innovation centers in the county, provides invaluable support to growing businesses, including facilities and essential services. One of SSIC’s tenant companies is Idoneous Consulting, a management and consulting firm that benefits from the low-cost, personalized office space at the center, as well as the collaborative environment.
“The county is really making an effort to set up [several] different innovation centers,” says Savena Allen, president of Idoneous Consulting. “There are a lot of people who are bright, motivated and inspired, and when you are surrounded by like-minded people, that is a draw in and of itself. Also, the business climate here is collaborative and collegial. People are willing to mentor others who are starting a business or thinking of starting a business.”
Green Generation Solutions
Green Generation Solutions, which engineers and implements comprehensive energy solutions, focuses on creating financial outcomes for its clients, rather than just sustainability, per se, says CEO Brad Dockser.
“We say ‘if you invest X you will get Y,’ and this is the impact on your business, both in hard return dollars and softer benefits like workforce retention, a healthy environment, and less downtime or days lost to illness,” he says.
According to Dockser, one of the biggest benefits of being headquartered in Bethesda is the employee talent pool.
“The workforce in Montgomery County is stellar,” he says, noting that Green Generation Solutions mostly hires project managers and engineers. “We need creative engineers—not just engineers that can look at a problem and solve it but people who can also step back and think how a problem fits holistically into the company and its operations. With all of the associations and companies that are here we’ve been able to tap into a terrific labor force.”
A sophisticated workforce is one of Montgomery County's calling cards. It boasts one of the most educated populations in the U.S. for people with advanced scientific engineering degrees. The county's talent assets include more than 100,000 advanced technology workers and one of the highest concentrations of Ph.D.s in the nation.
“For knowledge-based industries you have a great talent pool here,” Byler says.