by Robert Snyder, Bethesda Green Incubator Manager

The Bethesda Green Business Incubator developed and matured in 2011 as a place for young green companies to grow.  Some of our initial companies graduated, while new companies were added; our physical space grew; and services to our companies greatly expanded.   Today, we have 10 companies and two nonprofits, with several more waiting to join.

Four companies graduated this year:  SeeEco, Glen Eco Vapor Systems, Energy Light + Control, and Bkind Vending.  Three of the four were purchased by larger companies and their products and services continue to be sold.

The incubator welcomed five new companies this year, adding new vitality and diversity to our industry profile:

At the end of 2010, with the generosity of Capital One Bank, the incubator expanded its offices to include an additional 1,000 square feet of space to accommodate full-time resident companies.  We are delighted to have filled that space this year with two existing companies and two new ones—Savenia Labs, Mark Leisher Productions, Rock Creek Conservancy and Geostellar.

Most importantly, we have expanded the services provided to our companies, increasing their access to business and technical expertise.  We are particularly proud to have launched a partnership with the University of Maryland for access to their wealth of business and technical resources.  These resources have included the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the Smith School of Business; Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTech) and the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) in the Clark School of Engineering; and the Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center in the Law School.  In addition, the staff of the Small Business Development Center’s Capital Region office has worked closely with our incubator companies to provide counseling services.  Our incubator continues to work closely with Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development, particularly with its Business Innovation Network where we share expertise and education and training programs.

The incubator has offered a robust lunchtime speaker series that has featured distinguished entrepreneurs and business services providers.  Our distinguished entrepreneurs included Seth Goldman, Honest Tea; Scott Nash, MOM’s Organic Market; Devin Schain, Campus Direct; Lawrence Winkler, Consolidated Green Services; Charles Segerman, Clean Currents; and Tony Clifford, Standard Solar.  Our business services providers spoke on a variety of topics including social media, company branding, angel investment, legislative issues in the Maryland legislature and deal structure for investments.

Our coming year promises to be an even better one:  more great companies and even better services.  Watch us grow!