This story was corrected on June 19, 2012. An explanation follows the story.
Maryland bioscience executives, along with county and state officials, are in Boston this week to sell the state’s potential to the world’s biotech industry.
With more than 15,000 expected at this year’s Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention, which started Monday and runs through Friday, the state wants to make a strong showing through its Bio Maryland 2012 pavillion. Last year’s convention was staged in Washington, D.C.
The pavillion, sponsored by the Maryland Biotechnology Center, the Tech Council of Maryland’s MdBio division, the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, MedImmune of Gaithersburg and Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, provides booth space for 31 Maryland exhibitors.
“Rather than floating out by ourselves in the center, we can be part of a concentrated presence,” said Jeff Lange, managing partner of Vigilant Bioservices in Baltimore, one of the companies represented at the pavilion. “If companies want to do business with Maryland, we’re all easy to find.”
Vigilant is a bio-storage facility at the University of Maryland BioPark.
Lange, speaking from the conference Monday, said he hopes to make contacts for business development.
Lentigen, a Gaithersburg biologics company focused on lentiviral vectors that deliver genetic sequence information into cells to reprogram their function, also has a presence at the pavillion. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which oversees the state biotech center, has included Lentigen in its video showcase at the conference.
“In addition to raising awareness regarding its manufacturing capability, Lentigen is expecting to meet with potential investors and partners to advance the work of the company in gene therapy, T cell immunotherapy for cancer and vaccines for various viral diseases,” Lentigen CEO Tim Ravenscroft said in an email to The Gazette.
Serial entrepreneur and NexImmune CEO Kenneth Carter said he hopes to pick up funding partners for research and development. Carter’s new Gaithersburg venture develops immune-therapeutics based on technology that helps orchestrate specific immune system responses in a controllable and reproducible way.
Carter, also chairman of Noble Life Sciences in Gaithersburg, will be part of Montgomery County’s panel discussion on the evolution of entrepreneurship Tuesday. The panel also will include serial entrepreneurs such as CohBar CEO Mark Rampy, ImmunoVaccine CEO John Trizzino, Zygenia CEO Peter Kiener and BioCycive CEO Rahul Singhvi. MedImmune CEO Peter Greenleaf will moderate the panel.
“It’s to highlight the examples of folks involved in successful companies and show that Maryland is a great place to do bioscience,” Carter said.
Montgomery County officials particularly hope to attract more interest through its local biotech investment tax credit program, which kicked off this April and piggybacks on the state’s $8 million program. County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) was scheduled to have a panel talk on the program Tuesday, before the entrepreneurship panel. H. Thomas Watkins, CEO of Human Genome Sciences, whose one-year term as BIO chairman expires this week, also is slated to participate in the presentation.
“This is an additional impetus for startups to locate in Montgomery County. We’re the only local jurisdiction to have one of these programs,” said Steven A. Silverman, director of the county’s economic development department. “Even MedImmune didn’t start out as MedImmune. It started out as three people coming out of [the National Institutes of Health].”
Silverman said the county wants to spur as many new startups as possible
“This is a very large partnering event more than anything else. You get early-stage businesses meeting with large pharmaceutical companies like [Eli] Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline and you get small businesses interacting with other small businesses,” Silverman said. “They have the chance to meet with businesses across the country and world to partner and maybe create satellite offices.”
The main Montgomery County panel also is to include an overview of BioHealth Innovation of Rockville, the new regional private-public partnership that focuses on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing early-stage funding in central Maryland. The partnership links the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with numerous biotech business partners to foster biotech growth.
“Most of the technology-transfer efforts in Montgomery County labs have not achieved the level of success the county would like. They lack the day-to-day feedback on what the market needs or on venture capitalist preferences,” said Richard Bendis, president and CEO of BioHealth.
One of BioHealth’s initiatives includes an entrepreneur-in-resident at NIH’s Office of Technology Transfer. More of these positions are anticipated at other regional technology transfer offices in coming years, Bendis said.
Explanation: The original version misspelled the last name of Jeff Lange and the first initial of H. Thomas Watkins.