Montgomery biotechs get $6M boost from first local tax program -- Gazette.Net


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Ten biotechnology companies in Montgomery County last year received almost $6 million from investors who were spurred by the state and county’s biotech investment tax credit programs, officials said Monday.

The county’s program, which received its initial funding this fiscal year after being approved by the County Council in 2010, is the first such local one for biotechs in the nation, said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) during a news conference at the Rockville headquarters of biotech Sequella. Officials approved $500,000 in fiscal 2012 and another $500,000 for fiscal ’13, which starts July 1.

The state’s program, which began in 2006, is funding $8 million worth of credits this fiscal year. The Montgomery program is piggybacking on the state program, with biotechs in the county that obtain state credits also eligible to receive the local credits.

The amount of funds each Montgomery biotech receives from investors who claim the credit is based on how many companies in the county receive state credits, said Steven A. Silverman, the county’s economic development director. When they first pitched the idea, county officials had hoped to see $2 million per year in the program, but started with the lower amount, he said.

Having both a state and county credit is a great advantage when seeking investors, said Marty Zug, CFO of Sequella, one of the companies that has taken advantage of both programs.

“One of my current investors was so thrilled to receive his county rebate so quickly, he’s already made another investment in our company,” Zug said. Sequella focuses on developing treatments for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

The public credits help leverage more private money from investors, said Jonathan Cohen, president and CEO of Rockville biotech 20/20 GeneSystems, which develops diagnostic tests.

“We’re looking to expand the program,” he said.

Also attending the news conference was state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, a key supporter of biotech programs.

Other companies in the county receiving investments through the programs are Alper Biotech, Clarassance, Neogenix Oncology, OTraces and Rafagen, all of Rockville; Beta Cat Pharmaceuticals and Synergy America, both of Gaithersburg; Creatv MicroTech of Potomac.

kshay@gazette.net