There’s been a lot of talk about bolstering institutions like universities as places to drive the entrepreneurship Maryland needs to become a BioHealth hub. In North Baltimore, Sinai Hospital doesn’t have a connected university, but it still sees an opportunity to turn research into startups.
To provide space for that to happen, the LifeBridge Health hospital is opening the Sinai Hospital BioIncubator. It started as a space for internal research use by doctors and scientists, and is now being opened to outside tenants.
“We’re looking to really support these companies and get them off the ground,” said Scientific Director Michael Tangrea, a former National Cancer Institute researcher who also oversees translational research at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute.
The incubator plans show that early-stage companies have similar types of needs, whether it is a hospital or former industrial space.
The BioIncubator is offering a mix of sizes in spaces so companies can start small, and grow within the incubator. Spaces are as small as 100 square feet, and the incubator is looking to offer flexible leases to fit early-stage companies’ needs. Overall, the incubator has 2,000 square feet of always-coveted wet lab space, Tangrea said.
The hospital also convened a group of advisors known as the Lifebridge Innovation Council that includes members who can provide legal, regulatory and entrepreneurial advice.
Initially focusing on startups making medical devices and diagnostics tools, the incubator already has one signed tenant in Accelevir Diagnostics. The company is developing a test to detect inactive HIV in the blood.
Biotech startups are encouraged to apply.
The Sinai move comes amid a flurry of activity in the Baltimore life sciences space.
While wet lab space remains a need for young companies, Sinai’s space is one sign that area institutions are looking to create more. University System of Maryland-run IMET opened a new Inner Harbor incubator this year, Johns Hopkins has plans to expand its incubator on the medical campus and the University of Maryland-Baltimore is looking to lure a new location of the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Harbor Designs and Manufacturing is also a growing resource for production of medical devices. Along with providing space for companies, Tangrea said Sinai wants the innovation happening there to be part of the tech community. The way the incubator stands out may be found in what Sinai has already built.
“To be able to take the technology from the lab and bring it into the community hospital setting is fantastic,” he said.
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