Q4 & Year-End 2021 Investment Report
Greater Baltimore Posts its Best Investment Year on Record, Reaching $1.2 Billion
Despite the economic uncertainty brought on by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, investments in Greater Baltimore’s start-ups and early-stage companies climbed to nearly $1.2B in 2021, surpassing 2020’s all-time high of $809M by $365M. The totals raised this year are a clear signal of the Region’s economic strength and of the confidence that investors have in the diverse and resilient companies that are thriving here.
The nearly $1.2B raised in calendar year 2021 does not include investments in real estate development, or in Greater Baltimore's existing high-value companies. This report also excludes deals with undisclosed amounts. Investments were tracked for companies at the Pre-seed, Seed, Series A, Series B, Series C, and Series D rounds, as well as Private equity investments in early- and mid-stage growth companies.
Year in Review
Kicking off 2021, Greater Baltimore companies raised more than $556M, making Q1 one of the Region's strongest investment quarters on record. The first quarter total was more than the $355M received in all of 2019 and $200M more than the total in calendar year 2018. The investment growth seen during the first three months of the year was a positive start to 2021 and highlighted Greater Baltimore’s status as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.
In Q2, Greater Baltimore posted one of its most geographically and industry-diverse investment classes with 26 companies seeing investments across five of the Region’s seven jurisdictions. Following a record-setting first half of 2021 during which $706M was raised, Q3 investment activity moderated to $76M. The modest increase in investments during Q3 underscored the overall uncertainty felt across the U.S. as COVID-19-Delta variant cases surged. Nevertheless, the $782M nine-month total for 2021 represented a 16% increase compared to the first nine months of 2020.
Investments rebounded during the early months of Q4. The investments made through October 2021 already topped the total amount raised in 2020 by more than $189M. The funding raised during October and November each surpassed the totals raised during both Q2 and Q3 of 2021 (details of Q4’s investment performance is shared later in this report). In total, 2021 investments were 45% greater than 2020 totals and more than triple the amount raised by Greater Baltimore companies in 2019.
Six companies in Greater Baltimore received investments greater than $100 million in 2021. Leading the group were Howard County-based Dragos ($200M-Series D), SparkPost ($180M-Private Equity), and Bioenergy DevCo ($100M-Private Equity), which collectively raised $480M. These were followed by Baltimore City-based AbsoluteCARE ($105M-Private Equity), Personal Genome Diagnostics ($103M-Series C), and Delfi Diagnostics ($100M- Series A), which raised a combined $308M. The three Baltimore City companies are all in the Healthcare/Life Sciences.
Fifteen Howard County deals made up almost 48% of the nearly $1.2B raised in the Region in 2021. Baltimore City reported the most deals (31) and the second highest total investment value of $484M. Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County reported eight and seven deals, respectively. Anne Arundel’s investments were valued at $81M while Baltimore County’s came in at $52M. Finally, Carroll County companies reported two deals totaling $255K. In 2021, both Howard and Anne Arundel counties had deals of greater dollar value than in 2020.
Investment Spotlight: Select Investments in Greater Baltimore by TEDCO in 2021
The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) invests in the most promising early-stage technology start-ups across Greater Baltimore and the state of Maryland. In 2021, TEDCO invested more than $3M across nineteen companies in five of the Region’s seven jurisdictions through its Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) fund, Agriculture and Rural Rebuild Challenge Grants, Pre-Seed Builder, and Seed Fund programs. These investments are not an exhaustive account of TEDCO’s overall funding but demonstrate that the Region continues to be a leader in the incubation and evolution of significant advancements.
Grant Spotlight: Higher Education Investments in 2021
Greater Baltimore’s Higher Education institutions were also recipients of several large grants in 2021 including a $9M matching grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce to endow new research professorships at five universities, including Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Morgan State University, University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Medicine, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In addition, Morgan State University also received $6.3M ($5M from Google and $1.3M from Apple) in 2021 to create equity in tech and build a pipeline of qualified candidates in STEM careers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. UMBC received $23M in Q3 from NASA ($10M) and the NSF ($13M), and the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health received $139M throughout 2021 to support various projects.
Q4 2021 Investment Recap
Howard County-based companies performed well in Q4 raising a total of more than $332M. Deals were led by Dragos’s (IT/Cyber - Series D) $200M round, the largest start-up funding round for any company in Greater Baltimore in 2021, and an investment that was twice as large as the $110M Series C round that Dragos completed in 2020. Three Columbia-based companies, Bioenergy Devco (Energy - Private equity), SnapAttack (IT/Cyber - Series A), and Vheda Health (IT/Cyber - Undisclosed), raised $100M, $8M, and $7M respectively. Kion (IT/Cyber - Series A) raised $9M and QuickCode.ai, Trustate, Revgen, and Blocksynop each raised $2M which completed the Q4 investments in Howard County.
In Q4, the most robust sector for investment was IT/Cybersecurity with $274M invested across nine deals. In addition to the major Cybersecurity investments taking place in Howard County that were mentioned previously, Anne Arundel County-based Netography Inc. raised $45M (IT/Cyber - Series A), and Baltimore City-based companies RocketDocs (IT/Cyber - Series A) and Paperstack (IT/Cyber - Pre-Seed) raised $1.6M collectively or $1.5M and $1.2K respectively).
Despite ongoing challenges amidst a turbulent recovery from the global pandemic, the Region’s highly qualified workforce and diverse industries continued to innovate and thrive in 2021. The investments in Greater Baltimore companies underscore the Region’s ability to foster an economically robust ecosystem that drives innovation and attracts companies and talent. Continued funding for Greater Baltimore companies in 2022 and beyond will likely be influential in attracting additional investment, spurring innovation, creating jobs, and inspiring future companies to locate and expand in this economically vibrant Region.