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Maryland Launching $1.1B Biotech Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Already comfortably among leaders of the pack of US states in its biomedical research culture, Maryland plans to put the pedal down with a $1.1 billion, decade-long initiative focused on luring and nourishing biotech companies within its borders, State Governor Martin O’Malley said this week.
“Maryland is already nicknamed the ‘home of the genome’ and now must work to strengthen our position as a national and world leader in the research and development of ‘personalized medicine,’” O’Malley said in a statement.
The Governor unveiled the plan, called BIO 2020, earlier this week at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.
He said the initiative is “a comprehensive, targeted plan to leverage Maryland’s science and technology assets and nationally acclaimed workforce to attract and grow the bioscience opportunities of tomorrow in Maryland.”
The state will create a “Maryland Biotechnology Center” to be a showcase for biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship and to bring together technology transfer initiatives, regulatory functions, and other University of Maryland initiatives. The center will have personnel to develop the state’s relationship with federal labs, universities, and private sector companies.
The state also will double the current $6 million Biotech Investment Tax Credit in 2010 and again by 2013.
Maryland also plans to invest $60 million under the initiative to enhance its incubator network by 50 percent. The increased funds would expand the existing incubators, create new incubator sites, and offer related programs to help small tech companies get their ideas to commercialization.
The governor also has proposed spending at least $20 million annually to promote state-funded stem cell research through grants and loans to public and private entities.
Another BIO 2020 initiative is a Department of Business and Economic Development public-private partnership that will combine $1 million in state funds with $2 million in local investment.
The initiative also will enlarge the Maryland Venture Fund by $152 million by 2019. The fund makes equity investments in established companies and provides challenge grants to start-ups.
Much of the initiative is based on recommendations from the Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, which started work last fall on a statewide strategy for the state’s biosciences industry. The board plans to release that full report later in 2008.
Human Genome Sciences President and CEO and LSAB Chair H. Thomas Watkins in a statement called Governor O’Malley’s plan a “bold vision … for the future development of life sciences in Maryland.”

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