Cybersecurity startup firm finds home in incubator on UMBC campus

Beau Adkins and Zuly Gonzalez of Light Point Security in their start-up space at the BWTech Cyber Incubator building on the campus of UMBC. (Photo by Nate Pesce / March 13, 2013)

Those entering the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, campus from Interstate 195 find it easy to mistake the buildings on the right side of the road for part of the school, or just miss them completely.

Those five buildings make up the BWTech Research and Technology Park and house Life Sciences, Clean Energy and Cyber Security business incubators. The incubators provide office space, mentors, resources and collaborative opportunities for small startup companies in each of the three fields.

"Most entrepreneurs have started in their homes," said Ellen Hemmerly, the park's president and executive director. "But this can bring them out of their homes, where there's a community of other entrepreneurs.

"There's a lot of networking opportunities. We can help them understand what they need to help make their business really successful," she said.

At the Cyber Security incubator, at 5520 Research Park Drive, business is booming.

The incubator, currently at full capacity, is now preparing to expand to include a new 3,300 square foot office space across the hall from the existing offices.

The new space will include more open areas to facilitate collaboration between the different companies housed there.

Hemmerly said the Cyber Security incubator, which opened in late 2010, provides an excellent setting for new businesses starting out in a rapidly growing field.

"We were recognizing that cyber security was a very big business opportunity in the state of Maryland," Hemmerly said.

"The security issues related to the Internet are growing very fast, and I think everybody is aware of the risks. Whether it's a national security risk or whether it's a personal identity or personal financial risk," she said.

Coming Home

For the Cyber Security incubator's newest incoming tenant, joining the incubator was not only an opportunity to grow a business, but also return to personal roots.

David Simms, president, founder and CEO of Cyber Security Engineering Associates, is also a UMBC alumnus and said he is looking forward to starting a new chapter of his life where an old one ended.

He heard about the incubator program while attending the Cyber Maryland conference in October 2012 and immediately knew it would be a great fit.

"I really didn't know about it at the time," said Simms, who currently lives in Virginia.

"After speaking with them and all the wonderful benefits of being an associate here, and then of course, it is basically home, I thought wow, this would be an outstanding place to place my company," he said.

Simms' company, which provides validations and verification services to prevent virus and malware penetration, has been in the works for some time.

After obtaining three master's degrees and working for the Department of the Navy, Simms felt that he was ready to make the leap into entrepreneurship.

"

"As of late, with the movement of cyber security to the forefront, and all the things that go with that ... everything has just come to a head at the right time," he said.