It didn’t take long for word to get out in the fall of 2021 that Techstars and UpSurge Baltimore were joining forces.
“The floodgates opened,” said Kory Bailey, chief ecosystem and relationship officer for UpSurge Baltimore. Talent came from London, Germany, and Ireland along with several home-grown founders to experience the first Techstars accelerator with an intentional focus on underrepresented founders and technologies that are driving good in society.
The partnership is further elevating UpSurge’s goal to establish Baltimore as an equitable, top-tier tech hub - a concept dubbed ‘equitech.’
With the third class kicking off in March 2024, Bailey along with Adam Phillips, managing director of Techstars Equitech Accelerator, are taking full advantage of the city’s unique proximity to Washington DC’s cyber and defense assets plus local research and medical institutions. Both demo days were held at M&T Bank Stadium and Governor Wes Moore was the keynote speaker for the 2023 Demo Day.
“At the center of that mission is tech entrepreneurship. When you create a new tech platform—you don’t just create wealth for yourself, you help others solve problems,” said Moore.
Bailey echoed Moore’s sentiment. “There’s no place like Baltimore.”
“We are providing the founders with a high-level of access to really move the needle for them.”
That access proved challenging during the first class when the team realized they needed a real time representation of all the assets, resources, and people driving tech forward in the local ecosystem. Somewhat serendipitously, Baltimore-based EcoMap, one of the 12 companies in the first class, did exactly that. UpSurge then partnered with Fearless Solutions to fund their very own EcoMap, BMore Tech Connect.
Expect to see the relationships continue unfurling along the DC-Maryland-Virginia corridor as Phillips was recently named managing director of the Techstars Washington DC powered by J.P. Morgan accelerator.
Bailey is confident the momentum will lead to even more engagement and collaboration among founders and mentors in the two programs and ultimately more opportunities for founders.
“More people will raise their hands and want to get involved because the work is producing great outcomes.”
Success story: EcoMap closed a $3.5 million seed round in 2022. They employ 30 people and work out of a historic building in downtown Baltimore.