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Tech Council of Maryland Names Winners of 27th Annual Industry Awards

Winners Represent Individuals and Companies Leading the State’s Innovation Economy

Rockville, Md. (May 14, 2015) The Tech Council of Maryland (TCM), Maryland’s largest technology trade association, last night announced the winners of its 27th Annual Industry Awards. The celebration and ceremony, which took place at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, was attended by more than 700 technology and business leaders from around the state.

“The breadth of accomplishments of this year’s award recipients is impressive – from the innovations being developed here in Maryland to the leadership of executives and educators to foster inspired workplace and school environments,” said Phil Schiff, TCM’s CEO. “We are proud to honor this year’s winners, which underscore the quality and value of the state’s technology and life sciences communities, and the importance of their work around the world.”

Winners of the 2015 TCM Tech Awards are:

Chief Executive Officer of the Year – Stephen Hoffman, Chief Executive and Scientific Officer, Sanaria Inc.
Dr. Hoffman has more than 25 years of experience building and managing large, successful research and development programs, and spent 14 years a director of the Malaria Program at the Naval Medical Research Center. He started the Rockville, Md.-based Sanaria in his kitchen in 2003, with a grant of $550,000 from NIH. Last year, the company won an award for its malaria vaccine at the World Vaccine Congress, beating out companies such as Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. 
This year at the Congress, Dr. Hoffman was named Biotech CEO of the Year. In addition to trials of the vaccine run by multiple U.S. and European institutions, the company’s work has received the endorsement and support from a large number of African nations that are desperately seeking a means to prevent malaria.

Chief Financial Officer of the Year – Robert Kramer, Chief Financial Officer, Emergent BioSolutions
Having served as the CFO of Gaithersburg, Md.-based Emergent BioSolutions since shortly after the company’s inception in 1999, Kramer has exhibited solid business acumen and smart forecasting. Under his leadership, the company has achieved many milestones toward its growth plan, including a $250 million public offering in January 2014, $222 million acquisition of Cangene Corp., use of the company’s healthy balance sheet to secure a $100 million secured revolving credit facility to provide flexibility to further acquisitions, and closing a series of smaller strategic acquisitions to diversify and broaden Emergent’s biodefense product pipeline.

Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer of the Year – Herman Wong, Senior Director, Information Technology, Amarex Clinical Research, LLC
Fourteen years ago, Wong was the fifth employee of Germantown, Md.-based Amarex, where he learned efficiency, trouble-shooting skills and focus from the previous head of IT at the company. He has successfully navigated spikes in hiring to meet the needs of newly won contracts, which require significant training to orient people to the Amarex way, which focuses on teamwork and long-term employment. Wong mentors many incoming and younger colleagues, teaching them how to handle difficult situations and establish personal relationships with their colleagues.

Life Science Firm of the Year – Novavax, Inc.
Gaithersburg, Md.-based Novavax has grown dramatically over the last year, with employee headcount approaching 400, and both stock price and market capitalization doubling as its work in developing vaccines for infectious diseases has expanded. The company currently has five clinical trials underway. Its Ebola vaccine and maternal immunization program have both been fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration, while trials proceed on vaccines for RSV and influenza. 

Technology Firm of the Year – WeddingWire, Inc.
In 2014, Chevy Chase, Md.-based WeddingWire expanded globally with the acquisition of Bodas.net, a 250-person firm based in Barcelona serving 12 countries, including Spain, Italy, France and Brazil. Additionally, the company’s revenue grew 44 percent, from $34 million in 2013 to $49 million last year. The company attributes its success to hiring the best employees and making sure they want to stay. WeddingWire has focused on initiatives to foster staff growth, from bringing in guest speakers to hosting several events each month that encourage more social interaction among the employees.

Government Contracting Firm of the Year – Phacil, Inc.
Arlington, Va.-based Phacil puts strong emphasis on work ethic, culture, business fundamentals and listening to its clients needs to succeed as a commercial business competing in the government contractor space. In the last five years, the company has tripled its employee headcount to nearly 750 and quadrupled revenue to $119.2 million.

Emerging Firm of the Year – ZeroFOX
Just 12 months after its seed round, Baltimore-based ZeroFOX closed a Series A round of $11.7 million led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and added NEA Managing Director Peter Barris to its board. The past year marked one of great growth for the company, during which it expanded its workforce more than 380 percent, saw its revenue grow 150 percent from the first to the fourth quarter and inked major partnerships with companies such as McAfee, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. and OpenDNS.

STEM Educator of the Year – Virginia Brown, Molecular Genetics Teacher, Winston Churchill High School (Potomac, Md.)
Brown makes sure that students are “hands on, minds on” in her class, putting an emphasis on real-world experience and using her background as a scientist before she began her teaching career. Brown has developed innovative approaches that provide her students with an authentic experience, launching a double period molecular biology course for which she partnered with Mount Saint Mary’s University to give students transferable college credits upon completion and a two-week internship at the university. For the past five years, her students also have participated in the Molecular Biology and Genomics Research project in conjunction with Rutgers and Johns Hopkins Universities. In this project, students develop a cDNA library from a particular species of duckweed, and their work has resulted in more than 450 student-generated cDNA sequences being published in the databases of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Advocate of the Year – Maryland Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-District 12)
Sen. Kasemeyer is a leader in the State Senate with a record of accomplishments for Maryland’s innovation business community. As a community leader and small business owner, he espouses the need for sound, smart, fiscally responsible thinking in Annapolis. Sen. Kasemeyer, who serves as chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, is a strong advocate for a fair tax structure that improves the business opportunities and balances that with support for providing incentives that grow tomorrow’s jobs. He also is a member of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, which made recommendations to improve Maryland’s business climate and will examine the state’s tax structure this summer.

TCM STEM Scholarship
JK Moving Services, and its sister company CapRelo, also announced the winner of the TCM STEM Scholarship.  The $2,500 scholarship was awarded to Olney, Md., resident Camila Penaloza, a senior at James Hubert Blake High School, who will major in engineering at University of Maryland College Park in the Fall. Wanting to prove that girls can excel in engineering, Penaloza got involved in STEM programs, such as Girls in Technology: Mentor-Protege Program and the Young Scholars Program at University of Maryland College Park. Inspired by these programs, she hopes to work with Engineers Without Borders after graduating with a major in either civil or mechanical engineering.

ABOUT THE TECH COUNCIL OF MARYLAND, INC.

The Tech Council of Maryland (TCM) is the largest technology trade group serving the advanced technology and biotechnology communities of Maryland. TCM’s mission is to advocate for the interests of the technology community, further the role of technology in the Maryland economy, and nurture an environment where technology companies can collaborate, grow and succeed. For more information, visit www.techcouncilmd.com.