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Around the Regions: Sep 18, 2009


Report: Ohio's Third Frontier Yields $6.6B in Economic Activity, Near 10-to-One Return on State Spending

Ohio's $1.6 billion Third Frontier research and tech-commercialization effort, set to expire in 2012, generated $6.6 billion of economic activity, 41,300 total jobs, and $2.4 billion in employee wages and benefits following $681 million in state spending on the program between 2003 and 2008, according to a report released this week at a meeting of the Ohio Third Frontier Advisory Board and Commission.

Making an Impact: Assessing the Benefits of Ohio’s Investment in Technology-Based Economic Development Programs recommended that Third Frontier officials ensure that the program will continue past 2012; foster a better understanding of the program and its relationship to Ohio’s strengths; enable a stronger balance between research support and commercialization; and emphasize more entrepreneurial support programs, technology company attraction, and cluster expansion.

Ohio credits Third Frontier with commercializing or creating more than 500 companies and attracting $3.5 billion in private investment to Ohio. The report also credited Ohio Third Frontier with boosting the state's economy and high-tech business climate by:

• Dramatically increasing the availability of early-stage capital
• Improving the entrepreneurial environment for technology
• Improving research and development collaboration
• Driving employment growth in Ohio’s technology sector
• Contributing to the diversity and competitiveness of Ohio’s manufacturers
• Recruiting non-Ohio companies
• Charting a course consistent with tech-based growth in other regions

Making an Impact was produced for Ohio's Department of Development by SRI International and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. The project also received guidance from the Ohio Third Frontier Advisory Board and Commission.

Massachusetts Launches 'It’s All Here' Marketing Campaign, With Growth of Life-Sci, Other Industries in Mind

Massachusetts officials and others Thursday launched a statewide marketing campaign designed to help the Bay State retain existing employers and attract new jobs, businesses and creative talent in the life sciences and other industries.

The officials gathered at the Cambridge, Mass., headquarters of Akamai Technologies to celebrate the launch of "Massachusetts: It’s All Here," a public-private partnership between the state Department of Business Development, the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development or MassEcon, the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency or MassDevelopment, and the Massachusetts International Trade Council.

Formed and trademarked in 2003 by then-governor Mitt Romney, but not launched until now, It’s All Here is a new web portal that promotes Massachusetts as the destination of choice for entrepreneurs and their businesses, college-bound students, and would-be residents and tourists. The web site divides its content by the headings Grow Here, Live Here, Work Here, Play Here, and Study Here. The state said in a statement that dozens of industry groups, regional councils, agencies, and organizations throughout the state have begun linking to the site.

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The site will highlight specific themes each quarter, from opportunity (fall 2009) and growth (winter 2009-10) to the best places to grow a business (spring/summer 2010) and global leadership (summer/fall 2010).

The state has also named five individuals to an advisory council charged with overseeing the campaign: Michael Greeley, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners; Micho Spring, president of Weber Shandwick-New England and chairperson of its US corporate practice; Kiki Mills, executive director of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange; Kenneth Turner, a consultant with Trident Interactive Media; Allan Blair, president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council; Brendan Ciecko, founder of Ten Minute Media; and Zamawa Arenas, founder of Argus Communications.

“This campaign will provide a collective platform for telling the Massachusetts story," Greg Bialecki, secretary of housing and economic development under Gov. Deval Patrick, Romney's successor, said in a statement.

South Korean Delegation Visits Maryland's Montgomery County, as Officials Look to Strengthen Life-Science Ties

Montgomery County, Md., County Executive Isiah (Ike) Leggett and officials from the county Department of Economic Development met earlier this month with a visiting delegation from South Korea composed of Chungbuk Provincial Governor Woo-Taik Chung and eight executives from companies located in the province. The delegation from Chungbuk — a province formally known as Chungcheonbuk-do — was seeking to strengthen biotechnology ties with Montgomery, the Washington Post reported.

Chungbuk is ranked as home of the world's 14th largest biotech industry, and provincial officials hope to advance to seventh place by 2016. Also looking to expand in biotech is Montgomery County, which is looking to capitalize on anchors such as the US Food and Drug Administration offices, Johns Hopkins University and other research facilities, and a labor force with thousands of potential life-sci employees.

Suk-Song Oh, the president and chief executive of Meta Biomed, a South Korean company that makes synthetic bonds used in oral surgery, cited all those factors as reasons for his visit to the county, the newspaper reported. Last year, Oh's company invested $1 million to open a marketing office in Horsham, Pa. — but this year, Meta Biomed is scouring Montgomery County for a suitable site for an R&D presence. The facility will likely be built in one of Montgomery County's biotech industry incubators, the Post reported.

At a Friday luncheon, held at a Peruvian restaurant in Rockville, Md., Oh told the newspaper he thought Montgomery has the "world's top infrastructure" for his company's expansion. Also during the trip, Leggett hosted the South Korean group on visits to the FDA and an incubator in Rockville, one of many that the county says has nurtured companies that have created 18,000 jobs, the newspaper reported.

Montgomery County is home to at least five Korean biotech companies — including RNL Biostar, which has announced plans to open a $6 million stem cell R&D and manufacturing facility within Montgomery County by moving from the Maryland Technology Development Center incubator in Rockville to the Montgomery County-run Germantown (Md.) Innovation Center.

The company plans to grow its workforce from a handful of staffers to 50 over five years, and its space from its current 800-square-foot laboratory to 10,000 square feet of labs immediately and to 20,000 square feet of labs over five years in the new facility, where it will seek to develop treatments for Buerger's disease and osteoarthritis [BRN, May 21].

Chungbuk governor Woo-Taik Chung told the Post through a translator that he has been meeting with Leggett and other Montgomery County officials for two years: "Montgomery County is the only county we have this sort of relationship with."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.