In 2008, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced the BioMaryland 2020 Initiative to improve biotech companies’ access to financing and provide the infrastructure for these companies to grow within the state.
Each subsequent year, state executives have faced budget battles to increase the biotech investment. Despite the current tight budgetary climate, Maryland officials continue to urge legislators to keep investment in the program going.
When O’Malley launched BioMaryland 2020, with the goal of making Maryland a hot spot for biotech commercialization and innovation, the projected $1.1 billion spending plan was to be the largest per capita investment in biosciences by any state in the country.
Since its creation, BioMaryland 2020 has been a success. Through the initiative’s efforts, Maryland’s biotech investment tax credit has risen from $6 million to $8 million. This larger tax credit has resulted in $32 million in tax credits issued to investors in biotech companies within the state and yielded $64 million spread out among 50 companies.
At the Hub
Another of the major components of the initiative was the establishment of the Maryland Biotechnology Center, a “one stop shop” and information center to promote and support biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship in Maryland. The center also provides data and support for biotech companies in the state at every stage of development.
“We want to give visibility to our biotechs. Maryland receives the largest amount of investment dollars for research,” says Judith Britz, executive director of the Maryland Biotechnology Center. “Now, we’re trying to convert that into commercially viable products.”
BioMaryland 2020 also is on its way to the $60 million it pledged to contribute to the state’s Technology Incubator Network over the course of the current decade. The hope is that this will help Maryland leverage $120 million in private and federal investment funds.
There have been some challenges, too. The initiative originally pledged to provide $20 million annually for stem-cell research, but budgetary constraints have kept it from that goal. This year 2011, it will provide $10.4 million for this research, down from $12.4 million in 2010 and $18 million in 2009.
This dip does not signal that the state’s leaders and BioMaryland 2020 team are backing away from efforts to make the state a thriving biotech center, Britz says. “Bio 2020 is adhering to its promise, even in these pressing budget times, to maximize investment in the bio industry because ultimately bio pays back.”