Senator Ben Cardin visits bwtech@UMBC to discuss support for small businesses in the tech sector

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) visited Amethyst Technologies at the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park August 31. He met with Amethyst CEO Kimberly Brown and employees to discuss ongoing projects, the benefits of being part the bwtech@UMBC community, and how policymakers can most effectively support small businesses in the technology sphere.

Amethyst provides program development and compliance software and services to government agencies, private companies, and the U.S. military. Cardin was most impressed with Amethyst’s work in developing African nations, including support for disease prevention and diagnosis, clinical trials, and training programs in Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, with a new project on the horizon in Ethiopia.

Brown and Cardin discussed funding opportunities for small businesses like Amethyst, which currently employs 20 people in the U.S. and 20 in Africa, with plans to bring on 20 more as part of an expansion to a new site in Frostburg, MD. The senator was excited to find ways to make receiving government support easier for technical companies through programs like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Small Business Administration (SBA), and Small Business Innovation Research program.

“The work you’re doing is critically important,” said Cardin, “and the applications are so diverse. I recognize the importance of the small business community and the creativity you bring.”

Brown credits Amethyst’s success in part to her involvement with UMBC’s ACTiVATE program (Achieving the Commercialization of Technology in Ventures through Applied Training for Entrepreneurs), housed in UMBC’s Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. ACTiVATE supports women who want to start technology companies.

“UMBC was critical to our success,” Brown said. The university offered space in the life sciences incubator at bwtech@UMBC South, connected them with a qualified attorney and a business advisor, and assisted them with accessing high tech equipment.

Brown’s positive experiences with UMBC have led her to put down roots at bwtech@UMBC and continue to develop her relationship with the university. Since the company arrived in 2007, it has established an internship program for UMBC students and hired UMBC alumni.

“We are very pleased to have Amethyst Technologies as part of our bwtech community,” shares Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of bwtech@UMBC. “Dr. Brown is not only a great role model for our other entrepreneurs, but she also creates opportunities for both faculty and students at UMBC.”

Image: CEO Kimberly Brown and Senator Ben Cardin at Amethyst Technologies’ lab in the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park; photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.