After mobilizing to support founders affected by Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, UpSurge Baltimore furthered its mission of promoting a more equitable business environment by releasing a pair of studies that comprehensively both the growth and diversity of the local startup ecosystem.
As UpSurge CEO Jamie McDonald highlighted in introductions to each report, the ripple effects of any progress in the tech sector should be the norm, not the exception. In support of this commitment, UpSurge partnered with Johns Hopkins University’s 21st Century Cities Initiative to develop one of the two studies, “Diversity 2023: A baseline look at the diversity of Baltimore’s Equitech ecosystem.” This report snapshots the startup landscape’s current state while recommending ways forward to support positive change. The second publication, “Momentum 2023: A look at Baltimore’s Startup Ecosystem, Current Trends, and Opportunities,” builds on the themes of “The $11 Billion Opportunity” to holistically highlight Baltimore tech’s growth and potential, as well as offer a promising outlook for the city’s startups.
Here are some key highlights from both reports, as well as an interview with McDonald:
According to this first-of-its-kind report, although startups in Baltimore City are more diverse than the national average, they have yet to reach a level of diversity that accurately represents the city’s demographics. While McDonald noted that this report marks a snapshot in time, and that changes won’t be fully known until the next report, “Diversity 2023” and its constituent section, “Measuring Diversity in Baltimore’s Startup Ecosystem,” acknowledges the need for further improvement to ensure this city-to-sector demographic parity.
Within Baltimore City startups, the largest gaps exist for Black employees and executives; companies would need to more than triple their representation to match the city’s demographics, according to McDonald. Moreover, over 60% and almost 80% of startups did not have board members who identified as women or Black, respectively. The report, in reflection of UpSurge’s equitech model, notes that Baltimore could lead a path for other cities by fully confronting historic exclusion in the city’s economy.
“The Baltimore tech sector is not an island; it is located in a multi-sector context of public, private, and social systems that together have long determined the legal, financial, and social norms of business,” reads the “Measuring Diversity” section. “By demonstrating that diversity fuels sustainable value creation and scalable wealth, the Baltimore tech sector can be a catalyst for equity in Baltimore’s entire business and economic ecosystem.”