(Photo courtesy of Delaware Technology Park)
Mike Bowman knows Delaware has to cultivate and keep both larger corporations and smaller research-driven organizations if it wants to stay relevant as a national business leader. That’s been his goal since 1998 — when he was named chairman and president of the Delaware Technology Park (DTP), a series of buildings in Newark.
What is DTP? “The perfect triangle of public, private and academic partnership to foster innovation and partnership,” Bowman said.
It is a hub with many spokes.
The 40-acre park, which opened in 1993, is home to more than 50 companies, five buildings and about 1,000 employees who are leading the way in the life sciences, advanced materials, information technology and renewable energy sectors.
“One good thing helps you get another good thing,” said Bowman, who previously served as the vice president of DuPont’s Advanced Material Systems. “With great scientists, good people and a market that wants that technology, it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll get connected to the Delaware community and thrive.”
Bowman, who is a familiar name and face to those in the state’s economic development and tech transfer community, has more than his share of titles.
He is the state director of the Delaware Small Business & Technology Development Center, which provides educational programs and advising for businesses in the First State. He’s also the associate director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, one of DTP’s partners, which helps connect businesses to the University of Delaware’s technologies and research facilities.
“We do act as a hub for the state and we help companies of all kinds,” Bowman said. “It’s all part of the ecosystem of Delaware.”
One of DPT’s biggest tenants is the Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biology, which Bowman said, is the largest not-for-profit research organization in Europe. The company was looking to expand in the United States and partner with a research university, so Delaware was an excellent fit, Bowman said.
The Fraunhofer facility, which produces clinical trial materials for anthrax and malaria vaccines, started with just two scientists. The organization bought their own building in the park in 2008 and now boasts 100 employees.
Another success story from the park, Bowman said, is QPS, a contract research organization which provides services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients.
Two scientists left DuPont to start this organization. A few years later, the company has 1,400 employees in 40 countries.
Delaware Technology Park is self-supported through rent and occasional grants, Bowman said. The organizations within the park often receive grant funding for their research or capital from public and private investors.
Another point of pride for Bowman is the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus near the University of Delaware.
The university bought the former 270-acre Chrysler site, tore it down and rebuilt it with the purpose of cultivating a science, technology and research campus. The first building, the College of Health Science, opened its doors earlier this year.
This, too, has been a boon to Delaware’s business ecosystem, Bowman said, allowing organizations to have access to the university’s professors, research and clinical facilities.
Even with all the new science and technology growth in Delaware, Bowman is well aware of the state’s storied history with larger, scientific and pharmaceutical companies reigning supreme. While these organizations certainly add an important element to the culture of the state, he said, companies that “grow up” and stay in Delaware can add a good mix to the ecosystem.
“We’ve always been a corporate culture state, but we see big employers shrinking. The general public here is at an entrepreneurial level, especially millennials,” Bowman said. “Entrepreneurial culture is not the norm [in Delaware] and we’re trying to break the ice on that.”
Bowman said he believes Delaware Technology Park can and will continue to attract national and international organizations, as well as smart and savvy entrepreneurs with practical business ideas.
“The corporations know it as a business friendly state where your a big fish in a small pond. It’s important. Businesses want access to the governor and senators and we have that,” Bowman said. “We also sit in a very, very good location for one of the densest markets in the country. It’s a good place for using your capital.”-30-
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