Tammi Thomas
Sue Carr, CarrTech

A clinical pharmacist by trade, Sue Carr founded CarrTech to help health care professionals and patients with a safer, more cost-effective way to administer medication. Her new single-step filter needle system addresses a common problem that arises when giving injections to patients: Opening the sealed glass ampoule that holds liquid medications can result in glass shards mixing with the medication, jeopardizing patient safety. Currently a multi-step, complicated process is required to remove the shards and safely offer the injection. CarrTech’s patented FROG solution, which stands for Filter Removal of Glass, combines the two steps into one, potentially saving time, money and lives with its safe, streamlined process.

The Frederick, Maryland-based company has an ambitious goal to penetrate and disrupt the filter needle industry with its unique product. Carr said she understood the potential of FROG and quickly acquired multiple patents. Her challenge came with identifying funding and honing her product pitch. That’s where the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) came in. TEDCO fosters an inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem by investing in Maryland science and tech companies, and CarrTech proved a good match for TEDCO’s Builder Fund.

“I was so excited to access TEDCO’s Builder Fund, and that was just the start; I also received funding from TEDCO’s RUBRIC program and seed funding,” Carr said. “But it wasn’t just the money. Experienced advisors gave me excellent advice on how to negotiate strategic contracts. TEDCO showed me how to apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and helped me build my leadership skills. They lifted me up; I wouldn’t be here today without the help of TEDCO.”

The challenges many tech startups face

This need for expert advice, community, and access to funders is not unique to CarrTech’s founder. Jean-Luc Park, the senior director of Social Impact Funds at TEDCO, cites luck and proximity to funding as factors that often influence who gets support, noting there are many tech entrepreneurs with high-quality projects and the skills to succeed; what they lack are the right connections.

“TEDCO embraces diversity, equity and inclusion in Maryland’s startup communities. We designed the Social Impact Funds to engage and invest in underrepresented founders and communities,” Park said. “Our entrepreneurs can access the Builder Fund, which invests with the goal of helping startups reach meaningful milestones and become healthy companies, going on to either attract larger institutional investors or become independent of the venture investor path.”

Funded companies are also provided resources like hands-on executive support, peer-to-peer mentorship and collaboration, and networking opportunities.

In addition to funding support, Carr remains close to her Builder Fund cohort. She also participates in TEDCO’s Women’s Executive Leadership Roundtable, which offers peer-to-peer support for entrepreneurs. The roundtable creates a community of female executive leaders in Maryland’s startup technology sector. It also helps build a culture where women can get support, learn, share resources and information, and freely ask questions and share concerns.

Eligibility requirements for the Builder Fund

TEDCO encourages pre-seed technology startups from all industries to apply. Companies should be tech-centered, not simply a business that uses technology for operational purposes. The pre-seed Builder Fund has minimum ownership requirements: a company’s principal place of business must be in Maryland; it must have at least one full-time employee; and no less than 50% of founders must demonstrate economic disadvantage.

“The pre-seed Builder Fund provides a foundation for early-stage start-ups to grow in Maryland,” said Troy LeMaile-Stovall, TEDCO’s CEO. “I believe Maryland contains some of the brightest and innovative minds in the country. It is our job to seek out these individuals, provide them with the resources to grow and create a more inclusive ecosystem for the state.”

Applicants may apply online and applications are assessed on a rolling basis. If an entrepreneur does not qualify for the Builder Fund, they should be aware that Maryland has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. There may be other resources available for start-ups to grow their business; more information can be found using TEDCO’s online assessment.

Major milestones for CarrTech

Following TEDCO’s Builder Fund investment, CarrTech successfully pitched to angel investors and received notable recognitions. The company was named the 2021 Emerging Life Sciences Company of the Year by the Maryland Tech Council, and Carr was recognized as a DCA Live NEW Power Women of DC Tech.

In other exciting news, Carr hopes for U.S. Food and Drug Administration submission this summer and to be on the market by the end of 2022. She has an ambitious vision for her company: Carr anticipates multiple submissions to FDA for different sized needles and features, as well as expansion to Europe and beyond.

“We intend to have a global impact, especially among the underserved, the ones that need it the most. We want to see FROG in every medic bag and used across the world,” Carr said. “I have to pinch myself, I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far. Thank you to TEDCO, which saw my potential and made it clear they believed in me and CarrTech.”

One of the greatest challenges for many entrepreneurs is to invest in themselves as well as their companies. For relaxing, Carr turns to music, meditation, boating and cooking – and after a whirlwind few years, she’s taking a well-earned vacation this year, where hopefully someone else will cook for her.

To learn more about launching your tech business with TEDCO, visit TEDCOmd.com.

TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corp., enhances economic empowerment growth through the fostering of an inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. TEDCO identifies, invests in and helps grow technology and life science-based companies in Maryland. Learn more at tedcomd.com.

Source: Maryland Inno