The federal government allocated $2.45 million to the Maryland Tech Council (MTC), which will use the funds to grow an initiative supporting the state’s technology and life sciences companies.
MTC’s announcement yesterday noted that the money comes from the federal omnibus appropriations bill for the 2022 fiscal year. President Joe Biden signed the bill, which earmarked $1.5 trillion in spending through September, on March 15. The trade group’s statement attributed the allocation to Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the US Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for financial services and general government.
The bill stipulates that the money will be used “to support, promote, and educate small Maryland technology and life sciences companies as they expand to attract international investment and strategic partnerships.” MTC thus plans to put the funds toward expanding BioHub Maryland, an initiative to boost the local life sciences and tech economies. The statement said that BioHub Maryland pursues this economic growth by increasing relevant companies’ access to international capital and flexible lab space, as well as supporting workforce development and technology transfer.
MTC’s CEO Marty Rosendale emphasized the importance of using these funds, which he called “seed funding,” to increase life sciences sector opportunities.
“What we’re talking about is the demand for employees over the next five years,” Rosendale told Technical.ly. “With the growth of biomanufacturing and the bioscience companies in general, the growth in that [demand for employees] is dramatic.”
The numbers behind Maryland’s life sciences strengths, deficits
MTC’s statement referenced a report from the Milken Institute, which found that Maryland’s reputation for life sciences did not prevent it from lagging behind other states in some parts of the sector. For instance, the local sector’s employment of research and development personnel grew by only 7.2% between 2015 and 2020, which fell far below the growth in such leading life science states as Massachusetts (58%) and North Carolina (38%).
BioHub Maryland currently operates as an online job and resource portal. MTC plans to eventually expand this initiative into at least one physical space. While the MTC will most likely start at its office in Frederick, the organization’s recent expansion might bring physically place the initiative’s work to Prince George’s County and the Baltimore area — the sites of MTC’s first two satellite chapters.
MTC also intends to help state colleges refine their biotech curricula to fulfill industry needs. Rosendale envisions a world where life sciences employers can expect biomanufacturing students to learn the same necessary skills, regardless of where they went to school.
“The only way we’re going to get this done is if we’re inclusive throughout the state,” Rosendale said. “We need to reach into all populations to show them the excitement around these jobs, and the opportunities and possibilities.”
To ease career transitions and entry, Rosendale intends to use some of the funds for wraparound services. This could mean paying for daycare so a single parent can get job training, or subsidizing transportation to and from a training facility.
“When it comes to workforce development, there’s a lot of complication, but we’ve got the right team, the right coalition, that’s come together to solve these problems,” said Rosendale. “Now, with this seed funding, we’re off to a great start. This will be transformational for the industry.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-