Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced this week that the county will provide $800,000 to create a "conscious venture lab" at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
The lab will provide funds to companies and leaders who are "committed to the concept that capitalism can be a force for positive change," according to a county press release.
“I strongly believe that companies can do well by doing good, and I want to encourage more companies to follow that creed,” said Ulman, in a statement. “I challenged our team at the Howard County Economic Development Authority to find innovative ways to create jobs. This new program is aligned with our values. We want to foster companies that have both profit and strong values as part of their core mission.”
The $800,000 will be used for programming, staffing and other services for the lab; which is partnering with the Porter Group LLC, an investment group.
As part of the partnership, the Porter Group will provide each company accepted into the lab with up to $25,000 from a venture capital fund backed by Porter in exchange for a 5 percent equity stake in the business, according to the county. If graduates of the lab meet certain milestones, the Porter backed fund will provide an additional investment of up to $250,000.
The fund is focused on identifying companies that will generate between $25 million and $50 million within five years of launch, according to the county. A call for applications is expected to be made in October and the first group of five to seven companies should enter the lab in 2014.
“This lab will be a hub for educating leaders, executives, policy makers, communities, nonprofits and academics about capitalism,” said Jeffrey Cherry, CEO and Managing Partner of The Porter Group, in a statement. “When practiced with a stakeholder mindset, capitalism can be the force that creates a more just, equitable, healthy, joyful and profitable society. That’s the core value we want to instill in those we select for the lab.”
The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship was created in Howard County in 2011. It combined the business incubator, the Business Resource Center, the Howard Technology Council and the Catalyst Loan Fund into one organization.