The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of Howard County's Economic Development Authority, will put up $800,000 to help start Conscious Venture Lab – a project officials say will help startup businesses that profess to serve the public good.

"We want to foster companies that have both profit and strong values as part of their core mission," said County Executive Ken Ulman in a statement about the program, which is expected to launch in October with a call for applications.

The Center for Entrepreneurship, in Columbia, will provide programming, staff and other services for the lab. The county is partnering with Porter Group LLC, a New York-based investment group that will provide seed money of up to $25,000 in exchange for a 5 percent equity stake in businesses that complete training through the lab with a focus on "ethical transactions, community ties and job creation."

Additional money would be available for business that "graduate" from the lab, meet certain milestones and raise capital from outside sources.

The release from the county said officials will target entrepreneurs they believe can generate $25 million to $50 million in revenue within five years of launch. The first group of five to seven companies is expected to be in place early 2014. The startups will be housed at the lab for up to six months.

Julie Lenzer Kirk, executive director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, could not be reached for comment regarding the program.