Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD

Nicknamed “America’s Sailing Capital,” Annapolis MD has an impressive business environment for it’s small size.

Annapolis, MD, located near both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is the state’s capital but just its seventh-largest city. Despite its smaller size, however, the city that has been nicknamed “America’s Sailing Capital” has a more impressive business environment than one might expect. The city started gaining recognition as an entrepreneurial hotspot all the way back in 2015, when the website GoodCall ranked Annapolis as the fifth-best city in the U.S. for women entrepreneurs.

More recently, Annapolis appeared on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business; while the city’s rank of 819th overall isn’t spectacular, its finish of 187th in the “Access to Resources” category shows its potential for entrepreneurship. In addition, WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best metropolitan areas for STEM professionals ranked Baltimore, which includes Annapolis in its greater metro area, 53rd overall.

 Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Annapolis’ entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The American Business Women’s Association aims to support businesswomen through networking events and has a location in Annapolis.

The Annapolis Professional and Small Business Group hosts monthly networking events at the Criswell Collision Center to allow local entrepreneurs to meet one another.

Located just down the road from Annapolis in Bowie, this meetup group hosts regular networking events with the goal of supporting area entrepreneurs.

Every week, O’Loughlin’s Restaurant plays host to over 50 entrepreneurs and other business professionals as they meet one another and make connections.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Among the events hosted by the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce are networking mixers and an annual “Legislative Breakfast” to allow members to meet with area lawmakers.

Located in Annapolis, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce hosts regular events for its members, including networking opportunities, celebrations, conferences and more.

The Maryland Tech Council hosts regular technology- and business-related events throughout the state, including in Annapolis.


Startup Competitions:

Anne Arundel Community College’s annual Business Pitch Competition rewards over $100,000 in cash and support to winning students.

Bowie State University hosts the annual Bulldog Pitch Competition, in which teams undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs compete for cash prizes.

Startup Maryland runs the STRT1UP Roadshow, where the group goes around the state and allows local entrepreneurs to pitch their startups.


Co-working Spaces:

Just down the road in Capitol Heights, Clout Workspace aims to provide co-working and event space to entrepreneurs and small business owners in the area.

My Annapolis Office is a co-working space that provides a wide variety of membership plans for both traditional open-desk working and private office space rentals.

Located in the Annapolis Arts District, The Commons offers flexible membership plans as well as space for private events, art galleries or workshop space.

Regus Office, which organizes office space for rent in cities around the country, has locations in Annapolis as well as others in nearby cities like Bowie.



The Annapolis Makerspace makes a wide variety of tools and equipment as well as working space available 24/7 to members, with Open Houses on the fourth Tuesday of every month.

While it doesn’t offer a full-fledged makerspace, the Ann Arundel County Library does have 3D printing services available at its Crofton, Glen Burnie and Odenton locations.

Students and faculty at the US Naval Academy have access to the school’s makerspace, which includes a 3D printer, soldering station, hand tools and more.



Though it’s headquartered all the way in Rockville, BioHealth Innovation provides business and startup development services throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Students at Bowie State University can apply to participate in the school’s Summer Launch Program, an incubator program that helps students launch new ventures.

With locations in Annapolis and throughout the state, the Maryland Small Business Development Center runs a number of programs designed to support area small businesses.

TEDCO is an organization that aims to help entrepreneurs based in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area grow their businesses and take their ideas to market.



The Bowie Business Innovation Center is a program located at Bowie State University that provides resources to help startups and small businesses grow.

F3 Tech is a Maryland-based accelerator that works to support startups in the agritech, aquatech and envirotech industries (in other words, farm, fish and food).

FounderTrac is a 12-week accelerator program that individually customizes its program for each startup that joins it.



Anne Arundel Community College’s Entrepreneurial Studies Institute offers a wide variety of resources to students, including a major and two certificate programs in entrepreneurship.

The Entrepreneurship Academy at Bowie State University organizes a wide variety of resources with the goal of supporting student entrepreneurship.

Located down the road in Largo, Prince George’s Community College offers students a certificate program and classes in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Though the Baltimore Angels group meets in the Baltimore, its members invest in promising startups in the Mid-Atlantic, with a particular focus on the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

Located in Annapolis, the Eagle Venture Fund is a combination venture capital company and private equity firm that invests in both early-stage and middle-market companies in the area.

The Maryland Venture fund typically invests amounts between $500,000 and $1.5 million in promising business across a variety of industries.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce offers email updates on business news, announcements and events to those interested.

The Baltimore Business Journal offers newsletters covering business news throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area, including Annapolis.

The Daily Record, which covers business, legal and political news in the state of Maryland, publishes a number of newsletters with differing focuses on those topics.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Annapolis, MD, not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.