Fire Awards: 15 players changing Maryland’s startup and innovation scene

By Carley Milligan – Digital Editor

March 16, 2022, 10:41am EDT

This article was originally published on MARYLANDINNO. To read the original article in full, click here.

Greater Baltimore is chock full of companies and nonprofits developing new products, growing their teams and supporting their communities.

But we’ve singled out 15 outstanding innovators to honor with the 2022 Fire Awards, presented by Maryland Inno and the Baltimore Business Journal. The honorees include nonprofits, incubators, startups and more established firms, and vary in industry and geography across Greater Baltimore.

These companies are closing new rounds of funding, launching new projects, adding employees, growing their footprints, promoting equity and sustainability and elevating the local startup universe.

And most importantly, they are all on fire.

The Maryland Inno team selected the 15 winners after sourcing nominations from the public. We divided the winners into five categories of three, based on industries. One category, “Still Burning” was created for companies that we recently honored with tech-focused awards, but we felt were still well-deserving of this year’s Fire Award.

Still to come, we’ll reveal a top “Blazer” company from each category at our Fire Award celebration in April.

Stay tuned for more information about the event, here.

As always, this list is not intended to capture all of Greater Baltimore’s large and very impressive innovator ecosystem. But each member of this group deserves the recognition — read on to find out why.


(Organized by category, then alphabetical)


  • Mindgrub Technologies: A Baltimore-based software and digital products firm specializing in web and mobile app design, digital marketing, DevOps, AR/VR and robotics. In 2021, the company landed on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies for the ninth consecutive year, with three-year revenue growth of 142%. The company has added new satellite offices in several East Coast states and grew from about 115 employees to nearly 170 between 2020 and 2021, CEO Todd Marks told the BBJ. Mindgrub also recently announced plans to open a new headquarters in the Metaverse, while continuing to invest in physical space in Baltimore.
  • SmartLogic: A Baltimore software firm specializing in building web and mobile applications for client firms. Among the company’s recent projects, the open-source Challenge.Gov platform for the U.S. General Services Administration, a scalable platform to support World Central Kitchen, which serves meals to people experiencing food insecurity and a project to support a major distributor of at-home Covid tests. Last year, the company relaunched its paid apprenticeship program aimed at bringing diverse, aspiring developers into the tech industry, one of several efforts to create accessible onramps to careers in tech. The company’s chief of staff was also named a BBJ Leader in Diversity in 2021.
  • Youreka: A South Baltimore-based startup that allows service businesses to easily build mobile apps that can provide offsite employees and technicians with analysis and feedback while on the job. The company spun out of Annapolis cloud consulting company Synaptic Advisors and last year raised $8.5 million in Series A funding after seeing its recurring revenue grow 300% in 2020. The company nearly doubled its headcount in 2021 and plans to continue growing.

Medical Technology

  • Even Health: An Annapolis-based mental wellness startup developing Cabana, a digital counseling platform that offers anonymous virtual group support for health care professionals, facilitated by licensed professionals. The company is a graduate of 1501 Health, an incubator from LifeBridge Health and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and saw 200% revenue growth from 2020 to 2021. Event Health recently won a $1.7 million contract with the U.S. Air Force and has raised close to $2 million.
  • Longeviti Neuro Solutions: A Hunt Valley-based medical device startup that makes implants for neurosurgery that allow for post-operative ultrasound imaging of the brain. The company is in the process of moving its headquarters to Port Covington’s City Garage development amid a recent $5 million round of fundraising. Longeviti reported 60% sales growth year-over-year and added seven employees in 2021.
  • MissionGo & MediGo: Two sister companies led and backed by Baltimore developer and investor Scott Plank. MissionGo Unmanned Systems specializes in the use of unmanned aircraft systems to transport organs. MediGo specializes in organ transplant logistics and last year successfully coordinated its first commercial flight of 10 miles carrying a donor kidney as part of its new partnership with Nevada Donor Network.

Sustainability & Equity

  • 4MYCITY: A Baltimore nonprofit addressing environmental sustainability through the diversion of food waste. Since its establishment in 2018, the organization has distributed over 125 million pounds of food to families facing hunger. 4MYCITY is also in the process of installing an aerobic digester, which will allow them to process all types of food waste and biodegradable products into usable compost — technology that is new to the state of Maryland, according to the nonprofit. To date, the nonprofit has been largely run by volunteers and partner networks, but now has five employees.
  • Harford Minerals: A construction materials processor and supplier based in Joppatowne focused on recycling, sustainability and reducing carbon emissions created in the construction industry. The company was originally founded in 1965 as a sand supplier for golf courses, but later evolved and in 2014 began producing recycled aggregates, in addition to other services at its 80-acre reclamation facility. Last year, Harford Minerals announced a multi-million dollar investment to commission a new state-of-the-art wet processing plant for construction, demolition and excavation waste, which the company says will be the first in the region and among the first in North America. The company plans to develop an entire product line of renewable aggregates from the processing plant.
  • Parity Homes: A Baltimore organization that targets vacant properties en masse and rehabilitates them to create affordable homeownership opportunities with the goal of helping Black families generate wealth. This year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. made a three-year, $2 million commitment to Parity, which founder Bree Jones said will allow her to hire four additional employees to help handle growing demand for homes. The company has a goal to create 200 new Black and Latina homeowners in West Baltimore by increasing the pipeline of Baltimoreans who are trained to work in construction.

Igniters (accelerators/incubators/coworking hubs)

  • 1501 Health: An incubator for early-stage health care startups created by a partnership between LifeBridge Health system and Healthworx, the innovation and investment arm of health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. The Canton incubator’s year-long program provides each cohort member with up to $100,000 in investment capital along with mentorship and support from experts within LifeBridge and CareFirst. 1501 Health launched its first cohort in April 2021, and is preparing to begin its second cohort of seven companies.
  • Spark CoWorking – Baltimore: A coworking space supporting Baltimore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem since 2016. In 2021, the organization grew from one to three locations, adding offices in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, which allowed Spark to increase the number of companies it supports from 150 to more than 300. The company is planning to launch a fourth location in Arlington, Texas this year, along with an expansion in Baltimore called Spark Flex. The pilot program will focus on custom-built suites for maturing companies. Spark’s recent growth allowed it to increase its employee count by 75% in the last year.
  • W Ventures: A startup accelerator and investment operation from Baltimore-based marketing and communications firm Warschawski. W Ventures is located in Warschawski’s newly renovated Mount Washington headquarters and provides businesses with growth support, mentoring and other resources. In some cases, the organization also makes direct investments in its companies or exchanges marketing and communication services for equity stakes in the startups. Warschawski also offers living spaces next door to the space for startup founders to reside in if they choose.

Still Burning (Recent BBJ tech award winners that just keep blazing)

  • Dragos Inc.: One of Greater Baltimore’s biggest cybersecurity firms, specializing in security for industrial infrastructures such as electric, oil and gas, manufacturing, mining and transportation. Last year the company raised $200 million Series D funding, the largest venture capital deal in Greater Baltimoreand the second largest in Maryland in 2021. Dragos is using its latest raise to continue growing globally, after opening its first international office in Melbourne, Australia in March 2021, and announcing plans to expand to the United Kingdom and Dubai. The company was previously awarded the BBJ’s 2021 Best in Tech Award.
  • EcoMap Technologies: A Baltimore-based startup that collects data on various types of ecosystems and builds platforms to help people navigate them. The company was born out of a Johns Hopkins University research project focused on helping entrepreneurs better understand and navigate the startup ecosystem in their city. It has since expanded to over 20 ecosystems across the U.S. and abroad. EcoMap has grown from a team of five at the start of 2021 to more than 15 employees today. The company is also among 12 early-stage companiesaccepted into UpSurge Baltimore’s highly competitive, 13-week Techstars Equitech Accelerator. At the helm, is 24-year-old Pava LaPere, who in 2021 was named to Maryland Inno’s Under 25 list.
  • Harbor Designs & Manufacturing: A contract manufacturing firm that helps companies engineer new products, prototype them and scale up production from its headquarters in Pigtown’s 1100 Wicomico Street building. The company expanded in 2018, adding more employees to handle its growing medical device sector. Today, they occupy roughly 35,000 square feet at the Wicomico building. Harbor Designs reports having over 40 active projects, including well-known companies Hunt-A-Killer, Sonavi Labs, LifeStraw and more. The firm was also awarded the BBJ’s 2021 Best in Tech Award.

This article was originally published on MARYLANDINNO. To read the original article in full, click here.