Innovation Scores Big in Maryland
30 Jun, 2007By: Governor Martin O'Malley
When RemeGenix, Inc., a start-up technology company specializing in the development and commercialization of therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, needed funding to help prepare for clinical trials, they turned to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) for assistance.
The Rockville, Md.-based company, which is focused on determining the cause of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Traumatic Brain Injury, received a $50,000 investment through DBED’s highly successful Maryland Venture Fund. The company, whose lead product is being developed for Traumatic Brain Injury, hopes to use the funding to help fast track this drug to assist with the number of cases stemming from the war in Iraq.
Providing early stage capital investment to start-up technology companies is one of the top priorities of Maryland GovernorMartin O’Malley’s Administration.
“The O’Malley-Brown Administration is committed to supporting Maryland’s small technology companies and the innovation they foster,” said David Edgerley, Secretary of DBED. “Strategic investment in technology-based companies is one reason Maryland was recently ranked second in the country for biopharmaceutical innovation by the Milken Institute.”
RemeGenix officials say the commitment by Maryland will give the company greater credibility with potential investors, a major hurdle that many start up companies have difficulty in overcoming.
“Support from the Maryland Venture Fund will go a long way in convincing additional investors to join in on this round of financing,” said J. Kelly Ganjei, president and CEO of RemeGenix. “Not only was Maryland an obvious place to set up the company for personal reasons, but its close proximity to leading institutes such as Johns Hopkins University, NIH, the FDA and support systems such as DBED, make it the ideal location for growing technology companies.”
Maryland, which has often been called “America in Miniature” for its varied geography and wide assortment of amenities, is looming large as a hot spot for growing technology companies. Historically anchored in commercial activities through the Port of Baltimore and manufacturing of goods by companies suchas Domino Sugar and McCormick & Co., Maryland is today transformed into a center for innovation in many of the world’s most compelling technologies and R&D applications.
Today, biotechnology giants, like MedImmune, a global leader in protein engineering and biologics manufacturing which was recently acquired by AstraZeneca, and Qiagen N.V., which is merging with Gaithersberg,Md.-based Digene Corp., top of list of more than 380 innovative biotech companies. The list includes more than 20 private companies focused on vaccine research, infectious diseases and biodefense, that call Maryland home.
The strategically-located East Coast state is also home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, a leading facility forbiodefense vaccine research; University of Maryland, Baltimore Center for Vaccine Development, the only university vaccine center in the world engaged in the full range of vaccinology; National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center; University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute; and Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Marylandhas invested not only in its biotechnology workforce, but also in infrastructure. The state’s private-sector biotechnology companies employ approximately 30,000; an additional 30,000 workers are employed at federal and academic institutions. Maryland ranks second worldwide for initiatives aimed at drawing and retaining biotechnology companies including building research parks, investing public funds, and providing tax incentives. Much of Maryland’s success and competitiveness can be attributed to the state’s significant commitment and long-term investment in bioscience infrastructure totaling more than $450 million. The recipient of $7.2 billion in federal research and development obligations annually, Maryland continues to be a leader in per capita spending in the nation.
Maryland is capitalizing on its volume of biotechnology resources with several new initiatives, including the recent creation of the Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board.
The board will becomprised of leaders from Maryland’s biotechnology industry who will work to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for Maryland’s life sciences industry.
Governor O’Malley called the board “an important milestone in our mission to make Maryland the bioscience capital of the world.”
“This board will bring together, for the first time, key leaders in the bioscience industry to create a roadmap for Maryland’s bioscience assets,” Governor O’Malley said.
Governor O’Malley has also reaffirmed the state’s commitment to stem cell funding.
In May, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission completed its evaluation of the 86 grant applications received in response to the Requests for Applications, and has recommended 24 projects for funding under the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006. The work of the commission, in collaboration with the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, or TEDCO, will continue with additional funding for subsequent rounds. The 2007 General Assembly, with the strong leadership and support of the governor, provided an appropriation of $23 million for a second year of grant funding in FY 2008.
Maryland may be well known as a leader in biotechnology, but the state also boasts a strong core of advanced technology sectors, bolstered by the fact that it is recognized as having an outstandingprofessional and technical workforce (the second highest concentration among U.S. states).
In fact, the 2007 Cyberstates report by the American Electronics Association (AEA), Maryland ranks fifth nationwide by employment in measuring and control instruments manufacturing (10,800 jobs) and sixth in computer systems design (54,000 jobs). Almost equally robust is thestate’s ranking for engineering services employment, which totals 30,700 jobs. In addition, 79 out of every 1,000 private sector jobs are technology jobs, the sixth highest concentration in the nation.
Not surprisingly, this unparalleled workforce has given Maryland a thriving aerospace and defense sector, along with accompanying sub-sectors such as integrated software solutions, modeling and simulation, production and specialized machinery, satellites and communications and testing and assembly. Industry leaders are a part of the business landscape, affording opportunities topartner on complex projects, particularly those involved with federal agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security. Major players across the sector include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, AAI, ARINC, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Honeywell Technology Solutions, L3 Communications Titan Group, Raytheon, Swales Aerospace and Thales Communications, to name just a few. Maryland’s aerospace industry participates and partners in such high profile projects as the Joint Strike Fighter and US 101, the presidential helicopter.
Because of its concentration of high technology and defense firms, Maryland is also well-positioned to serve growing homeland security requirements. Firms have immediate access to major federal agencies and military installations such as the Aberdeen Proving Ground; Army Research Lab – Adelphia; Ft. Detrick, home to the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the National Interagency Biodefense Campus; Ft. Meade and neighboring National Security Agency; and the Patuxent Naval Air Station, home to the Naval Air Systems Command and its Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division. The state is also home to the nation’s first national security incubator, the Chesapeake Innovation Center, which serves as a bridge between major users of security technology and small companies at theforefront of innovation.