Rich Bendis

Innovation and creation are at the heart of the biotech industry and close to the heart of international business development consultant Richard A. Bendis.

Bendis, 65, has devoted almost 40 years to helping enterprises grow, in both the public and private sector.

Most recently, Bendis was named CEO of the new regional effort to foster commercialization of federal and university laboratory innovations and increase access to early-stage funding for biotechs. BioHealth Innovation of Rockville is a nonprofit private-public partnership that leverages the resources of several biotechs and research institutions, including the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region.

Maryland-based BioHealth Innovation Inc. announced today that its board of directors has named former Interim CEO Richard Bendis the organization's first president and chief executive officer.

Bendis (pictured here) serves as a venture capital investment manager with NEST-TN LLC, a Nashville-based VC fund that the state has certified as a TNInvestco fund.

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A Montgomery County Council committee recommended on Monday to contribute $250,000 this fiscal year to a public-private partnership — BioHealth Innovation — that is trying to boost the life sciences industry.

The county’s biosciences task force recommended forming the local nonprofit public-private partnership, among other suggestions, three years ago. Besides the $250,000 supplemental increase by the county in fiscal 2012, the partnership seeks $1.25 million from the county during the following three fiscal years.

The expenditure still needs the approval of the full council — which could come as soon as next week — after the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee lent its approval.

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The arduous task of converting laboratory research into a promising startup biotechnology company has many laborers. And a fledgling group out of Montgomery County wants to add private-sector employers’ names to the list.

As the Business Journal’s Scott Dance reported last week, BioHealth Innovation Inc. wants to recruit private businesses to help biotech entrepreneurs take the science out of a university lab and into an office park. The tactic, the group’s leaders say, has worked elsewhere, and already, BioHealth Innovation has the backing of such venerable biotechs as Human Genome Sciences and MedImmune.

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A Montgomery County nonprofit is planning to extend to Baltimore its mission of translating laboratory research into startup companies.

Where it differs from previous efforts is its plan to get its drive from the private sector, rather than from government or universities. Organizers of Rockville-based BioHealth Innovation Inc. want to help entrepreneurs root out business ideas in federal and university labs, help fund those ventures and build an accelerator in which they can grow in response to market demand.

Bendis Rich BioHealth Innovation 280

A Montgomery County-based nonprofit is planning to extend to Baltimore its mission of translating laboratory research into startup companies.

Where it differs from previous efforts is that it plans to get its drive from the private sector, rather than from government or universities. Organizers of BioHealth Innovation Inc. have plans for entrepreneurs to root out business ideas in federal and university labs and build an accelerator in which they can grow in response to market demand.

A coalition of Maryland biotechs, universities and Montgomery County officials have committed $1.25 million in a bid to aid a fragmented life sciences sector. The group also is hiring a CEO and taking space in county offices. Officials been quietly laying the groundwork for BioHealth Innovation Inc. since 2009 and are preparing to publicly announce it by the end of the year as an intermediary that will try to boost tech transfer, increase bio investment and facilitate hiring.

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Montgomery County, Human Genome Sciences Inc., MedImmune, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and Adventist HealthCare are all putting up funding for a regional biotech partnership — the most concrete step yet in a long-deferred mission to connect the region’s life sciences sector to itself.

Officials have been quietly laying the groundwork for BioHealth Innovation Inc. (BHI) since 2009, although its goals are far older. The regional nonprofit is envisioned as a sort of intermediary between biotech, academia, government and investors — with the hopes of multiplying life sciences investment, commercializing more scientific discoveries, and linking scientific and business talent, among other goals.

Among the plans for BHI's first five years: increasing the region's bio investment to $150 million annually.