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Past Winners


"We looked at other office spaces before, but none of them came close to the deal we have here. We’ve made a lot of connections." — Terri Merz, Cynergy Group of Baltimore, Inc. President

Cynergy Group of Baltimore, Inc.

We live in a world of passwords and protection, where confidential information can be more valuable than diamonds — and needs just as much safeguarding. Cynergy Group of Baltimore, a woman/veteran-owned information assurance company, is helping to make today’s information systems as secure as possible, for both private and government clients.

The company provides support at all stages in the life of an information system, including development, implementation, risk assessments and engineering solutions. Its security services cover computers, personnel, physical space, operations and communications, keeping everything from hard drives to employees protected. As part of its personnel security program, Cynergy also provides training for government and contracting staff.

The business took shape at a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) conference in Baltimore, where co-owners Terri Merz and Michael Senior met. Though Senior, a businessman, had advised Merz, an engineer, to go into business for herself, eventually the two decided to go into the information technology business together and incorporated Cynergy in 2002.

They shared resources with Senior’s other business in Pennsylvania while gaining security clearances and establishing the framework necessary to perform on government contracts. In addition, Cynergy started providing capability briefings to large prime contracts in search of subcontracting opportunities. In 2005 Cynergy principals were ready to "put their stake in the ground," as Merz puts it, and Emerging Technology Centers, a Baltimore incubator, proved to be the most attractive option. "They had all the right connections, a great location and fabulous services," she says.

ETC Director of Operations Neil Davis says that Merz herself was one of the reasons the incubator was so interested. "We really fell in love with Terri," he says. "She had all the hallmarks of an entrepreneur who would be successful, and we wanted to be a part of that story." He cites her aggressive pursuance of contracts and self-motivating attitude as examples of those hallmarks.

As the company took on more subcontracts, it began to earn a reputation for good service, a key step in becoming a prime contractor. In late 2005, Cynergy was certified as a top 20 percent performer by, which evaluates service suppliers in various industries on behalf of Dun and Bradstreet. Soon after, Cynergy won its first prime contract: the Seaport Enhanced IDIQ, a contracting vehicle for federal offices including the Navy, Marine Corps and Department of Defense. This is particularly significant, Merz says, because as a small business, Cynergy now has multimillion dollar companies subcontracting for it. "It’s a form of endorsement," she says.

In addition, Cynergy has brought other ETC clients into the contract. "They’re really a great role model for other companies," Davis says. The partnerships between Cynergy and these other companies could offer more business opportunities for all involved, including ETC itself. "Through its affiliation with Cynergy, ETC has developed a broader, more practical understanding of the opportunities available to early-stage companies with the federal government," Davis says. "ETC has also become aware of ways in which to make its program more attractive to early-stage companies who are focused on federal government opportunities."

Cynergy achieved a 110 percent increase in revenues between Dec. 31, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2005, Merz says. ETC’s assistance with infrastructure support, contacts and logistics will contribute greatly to further growth, she adds.

Next on the horizon for Cynergy is the development of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility space (a secure space for processing classified information) and National Information Assurance Partnership lab space (a lab designed to test information assurance products relative to an international assessment standard). These spaces are in high demand by contracting clients. ETC has invited the company to create these spaces within the incubator and has identified several possible funding sources to assist with creating them. If the spaces are fully developed, Merz says, the company will probably stay on at ETC as an anchor tenant even after its projected graduation in 2008.

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