Maryland’s biotechs continued to leave their mark on the industry at this week’s global convention in Boston, with several executives claiming prominent board positions and a new report showing the state outpacing national growth in life science employment.
More than 15,000 executives and others were expected at this year’s Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention, which started Monday and ended Thursday. More than 31 state companies sought the world’s attention at the Bio Maryland 2012 pavillion, which the state also had at last year’s convention in Washington, D.C.
Maryland made a strong showing, said Jeff Lange, managing partner of Vigilant Bioservices, a bio-storage company at the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore and one of the companies represented at the pavilion.
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 sponsored the pavilion, which was among the three best in terms of size and quality, Lange said.
“We had good traffic. I enjoyed being part of the Maryland pavillion,” Lange said, adding that this was Vigilant’s second year at the convention. “It’s all in the final evaluation of the followup with the contacts.”
Lange also said there’s a growing trend among state pavilions to provide space for people to eat and talk, rather than just presenting companies in a straight line. He said more companies are looking to approach one another in partnership situations.
Among the news to come out of the convention was a report showing Maryland’s life science companies faring better than the national industry from 2001 to 2010.
The state's bioscience industry generated 33,257 jobs in 2010, according to the industry report from Battelle and BIO. That was up 8.3 percent from 2001, but down 1.2 percent from 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession. National industry employment during the decade grew 6.4 percent and fell 1.4 percent from 2007 to 2010.
Maryland’s bioscience industry also fared better than the state's overall private sector, which lost 0.6 percent of jobs from 2001 to 2010 and 5.6 percent from 2007 to 2010.
The U.S. bioscience industry generated 96,000 new jobs from 2001 to 2010, compared with the overall private sector's loss of 3 million jobs during the decade.
Maryland was among the 34 states that grew jobs from 2001 to 2010, according to the report. The state had 1,842 bioscience companies in 2010, with its largest specialities in research, testing and medical laboratories, and pharmaceuticals.
The report also predicted an increasing interest in collaboration among bioscience companies and the advent of convergence among bioscience, physical science and engineering.
Biotechs in Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. had a record-breaking aggregate profit of $4.7 billion in 2010, up 30 percent from 2009, according to a new Ernst & Young report. Biotechs in those regions raised $25 billion in 2010, equaling the average for the four years before the recession.
<>MedImmune, HGS executives in spotlight<>
Also this week in Boston, the leaders of MedImmune and Human Genome Sciences, Maryland’s largest biotechs, assumed prominent positions on the BIO board.
H. Thomas Watkins, CEO of HGS, was re-elected to a second one-year term as chairman, while Peter Greenleaf, president of MedImmune, was elected to its executive committee. Rachel King, CEO of GlycoMimetics in Gaithersburg, was elected health section vice chairwoman.
They and other Maryland bioscience executives also played a prominent role during presentations, including Watkins’ “Biotech and Big Pharma — What’s Next?” and “Beyond Antibodies: Developing Next Generation Biologics” with Zygenia CEO Peter Kiener.
“For Lentigen, it was a good week, with a range of meetings which spanned discussions with potential partners, service providers and investors,” Tim Ravenscroft, CEO of Lentigen, said in an email to The Gazette. “The presence of Lentigen at the Maryland Pavilion was timely, as the company begins to communicate its recently completed [good manufacturing practice] facility, which is offering clinical grade contract manufacturing for lentiviral vectors and related products.”
Lentigen is a Gaithersburg biologics company focused delivering genetic information to reprogram cell function. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which oversees the state biotech center, included Lentigen in its video showcase at the conference.
Montgomery County also hosted a panel on the programs it offers for biotechs, including its local investment tax credit program, which kicked off in April and piggybacks on the state’s $8 million program. The county also highlighted BioHealth Innovation of Rockville, the new regional private-public partnership that focuses on commercializing market-relevant bioscience innovations and increasing early-stage funding in central Maryland.
“It’s just the realization that one political jurisdiction can’t do this on its own. It can tap into the power of the marketplace,” said Tom Sadowski, CEO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, one of BioHealth’s newest partners.
BioHealth complements the assets and strengths of the Baltimore County biotech community, he said.
Local serial entrepreneurs such as NexImmune CEO Kenneth Carter, CohBar CEO Mark Rampy, ImmunoVaccine CEO John Trizzino, BioCycive CEO Rahul Singhvi and Kiener also presented on the state’s successes.
The state’s economic development department also signed a partnership with Paris Medicen to collaborate on disease research and translational medicine. Maryland partnered with the Cancer-BioSante Cluster in 2010 to focus on cancer research, diagnostics and therapeutic strategies.