George Davis, CEO, TEDCO
George Davis has been called the “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur,” as a result of his experience in investing, building and managing biotech, IT and software companies. Now, his latest mission as CEO of TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, will be to make TEDCO a driving force in Maryland’s innovation ecosystem.
Created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1998, TEDCO assists in the startup and growth of early stage technology-based businesses by providing funding, mentoring and networking opportunities. TEDCO strives to play a key role in driving the commercialization of research from Maryland-based educational institutions with federal laboratories. Davis says his planned initiatives for the organization will make it stronger, and offer bigger and better programs. “We need to build success stories,” he says.
“Entrepreneurs need cash and connectivity. We can do a better job connecting the community to state and local entrepreneurs and a better job of being a trusted source with bigger companies.”
Davis says TEDCO can be more of an advocate for minority and women-owned businesses, as well as for academics. “We want to promote the companies that are staying in Maryland. The biggest challenge is trying to allocate and find resources for everything that’s happening in the marketplace,” he explains.
Maryland institutions conduct upwards of $2.5 billion in research every year, but Davis says we have fallen short on transforming this research into commercial opportunity. One of his objectives is to award early stage capital to the most disrupting technologies and promising entrepreneurs. Davis hopes to also bring a different flavor to the Entrepreneur Expo and Stem Cell Symposium, scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Baltimore Hilton. “We’ll be emphasizing connecting startups to the full suite of resources necessary for success,” he explains. “It will be a showcase to celebrate the Maryland technology ecosystem, putting the entrepreneur front and center.”
A native Marylander, Davis began his career at Westinghouse Electric, then served as a director of enterprise management systems at Northrop Grumman Corporation. When the siren song of the dot-com era and the entrepreneurial world called him, he helped start Aether Systems, a mobile and wireless data computing company. It was his first of several IPOs, and he continued on the entrepreneur track to help secure more than $1.5 billion in capital for a variety of technology sector startup companies. In 2007, Davis joined Avatech Solutions as the CEO and guided that public company through a merger that doubled its size. His most recent joint venture with a former partner was Gamma 3, which provides seed capital to several Maryland-based technology startups.
Davis recalls two of his proudest career moments: managing people in down times and executing business mergers. “I was able to manage people on the downside of a corporate break up with the decline of Aether Systems,” he says. “I had to see them through the ups and downs as we broke up the company, and get them through the hard times. It was a phenomenal experience.” He describes his second proudest moment as the negotiation of the merger between Avatech Solutions and Rand Worldwide, which doubled the size of the business.
Today, Davis is looking ahead at the possibilities for TEDCO. “I’m very excited about talking to startups, academics, advocates, state legislators and industry to help form a strong coalition of constituencies that will benefit Maryland’s Innovation Ecosystem,” he says.
Newt Fowler, immediate past chairman of the board of directors for TEDCO, says, “Davis is a great asset to the TEDCO team. Any entrepreneur can say that George has seen it all, and he knows how to measure the DNA of the Maryland entrepreneur.”
TEDCO has invested $22 million annually in seed money in more than 400 startup companies, which led to over $1 billion in follow-on funding. These companies created 4,358 jobs at an average salary of $74,700, along with more than $36 million in government revenues.
Fowler, who describes himself as a “recovering entrepreneur” and a 30-year lawyer, says the board supports Davis’ growth efforts for TEDCO. “Davis was chosen for the top spot so we could carve the place for funding and mentoring. We want to take it out of the single investment business and into the value-added.” I95