Report: A Baseline Look at the Diversity of Baltimore’s Equitech Ecosystem


A baseline look at the diversity of Baltimore’s Equitech ecosystem

Building the first Equitech City means understanding the diversity of our tech economy, its leaders, workforce, and advisors. This report sets a baseline to understand where we are and to track our progress.

Our Foundational Concepts

When UpSurge launched just under two years ago, we anchored our work in four foundational concepts:

  1. A tech economy is key to the growth of US cities in the 21st century, and is an important complement to the small business and corporate sector
  2. Baltimore has all the assets to build a top-tier, global tech city.
  3. We can build a next generation tech city, one that embraces these assets, while focusing on a distinct Equitech vision: an inclusive tech city, unlocking economic potential and opportunity, and creating a culture of belonging in tech.
  4. Equitech is an economic opportunity and the right thing to do. The research is unequivocal. In study after study, companies with diverse teams, leaders, boards and cap tables outperform those with less diversity. Notably, Harvard professors Paul Gompers and Silpa Kovvali, published an authoritative analysis in The Other Diversity Dividend showing that “Teams of diverse founders create more innovation and better financial outcomes at venture-funded startups, including 30% higher multiples on invested capital (MOIC), better valuations for startups with at least one female founder (63% better than all-male teams) and/or with at least one ethnicallydiverse team member reporting to the CEO (65% better than all-white teams).

Our Baseline

When we partnered with the 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC) at Johns Hopkins University, our goal was to understand the diversity of Baltimore’s startup ecosystem, at the employee, leadership and board levels.

We wanted a baseline from which to measure progress toward the Equitech vision. As a data-driven organization, UpSurge Baltimore understands that demonstrating our progress toward making Baltimore the first Equitech city – one where the tech economy is high-performing, inclusive and welcoming – depends on showing headway against an initial baseline. When combined with our companion ecosystem report, we can assess the progress we are making toward our overall ecosystem growth and the current state of our tech diversity.

At a more detailed level, we wanted to understand two key dimensions of our progress. First, are our local companies tapping the force-multiplier of diversity, as a proven growth driver and economic benefit? And second, where do we stand relative to the diversity of our city’s workforce and the tech economy nationally?

The results point both to good news and to significant work ahead. Based on survey results and available data, Baltimore’s startups are far more diverse than the national averages, although we’re not yet close to parity with our own population in a city that is more than 60% Black and 53% women.

Read the Report