Maryland can become a major BioHealth hub, but it's missing 1 ingredient - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Apr. 21, 2016 12:45 pm

Maryland can become a major BioHealth hub, but it’s missing 1 ingredient

An index released by EAGB and BioHealth Innovation shows the gulf between research funding and startup creation.

Hopkins officials mingle at the opening of FastForward East, February 2015.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

From Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland has the talent and institutions to become one of the biggest hubs of the bio- and health-technology industry. But the region needs more entrepreneurship to get there.

Earlier this week, experts from across the industry were in Gaithersburg to discuss the ecosystem at the Regional BioTech Forum. Amid the talk, EAGB and BioHealth Innovation released a BioHealth Index showing how the region stacks up. This year, there’s also a heat map feature.

Read the report

Drawing on stats through 2014, the index puts Central Maryland at No. 6 out of eight regions for biotech. Officials say they want to get into the top 3, which currently includes New York, Boston and San Francisco, by 2023. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Talent is currently the big strength. Thanks to universities and federal labs, the region has the most biotech workers, and concentrations of highly-educated workers that put it in the top three. That pool is also growing, with young professional population growth landing second only to New York.
  • Research funding is strong. There is also money pouring in for bio and health research. The region’s universities pull in the second highest total for R&D, at $1.7 billion. Johns Hopkins pulls in the second highest total overall in the country.
  • But commercialization is tepid. There’s clearly a gap between the money coming in, and the income being generated as a result. The ranks start falling when the topic turns to startups at those universities. In categories like number of startups formed and license income, the region is trailing most peer cities. The report points out Johns Hopkins’ efforts with FastForward, and companies that have sprung up more recently like Dreamit Health alums Protenus and Avhana. They’ve each grown since the 2014 stats, and a new health-focused accelerator is also coming in Baltimore. But, overall, the stats indicate the region could do more to support startups.

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