FREDERICK, Md. -- Eleven startup businesses recently graduated from the Edge, a community growth business accelerator founded late last year by Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI) in collaboration with Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research and many community partners.
The Edge offered 12 weeks of in-person education and coaching to help startups overcome the numerous challenges facing young companies. The program created a powerful network of mentors from around the community and brought in experts to teach a wide range of essential business skills, from marketing to finance. The companies came from various sectors such as IT, medical devices, services, and the biotech and life sciences.
“Having a community accelerator program like this, which helps entrepreneurs further refine their ideas and become competitive in the start-up world, is very important for the city of Frederick,” said Vladimir Popov, Ph.D., director of the Frederick National Laboratory Partnership Development Office, who served as a mentor throughout the program. “FITCI has done an amazing job in designing, running, and executing this program. We are very proud to be part of this effort and are looking forward to working with the upcoming cohorts.”
After 12 intense weeks, the program concluded with a Demo Day pitch contest, in which the companies competed for $11,000 in funding and other benefits. Leonard Freedman, Ph.D., Frederick National Laboratory chief science officer, served as one of the judges.
Participants said the program played an important role in the shaping of their young companies. Entrepreneur Emerson Wen, who created a retail intelligence platform, researched several regional accelerators before deciding to join The Edge.
“One of the biggest things that drew me to the Edge was the number of mentors and the amount of support. The number of industry leaders connected to the Edge is incredible. I felt like that was a winning combination,” Wen said.
He added that participation helped expand his perception and hone his company’s direction.
“I have more of the tools now to go forward and really succeed on my own terms.”
After the success of the first cohort, FITCI and the other founding partners are planning to launch a second cohort in the upcoming year.
“Cooperative support is the strength of this program,” said FITCI CEO Kathie Callahan Brady. “Seeing the success here is an indicator of how much more we can do in the future. It’s the right environment and the right time for shaping dedicated, well-informed business leaders who will augment the rich diversity of opportunity in this community as they go out and change the world.”
Participating in the Edge is just one of the many ways the Frederick National Laboratory supports the growing biotech community in Frederick and beyond. The national laboratory strives to be a shared resource for the biomedical community. Learn more about the Frederick National Laboratory’s partnership work.
By Victoria Brun, Partnership Development Office