Bohealth innovations

County Executive Ike Leggett (center) and Councilmembers Nancy Floreen (second from right) and Hans Riemer (right) visited BioHealth Innovation's Open House on July 23. BioHealth Innovation (BHI) was established as a public-private partnership to accelerate the technology transfer and commercialization of biohealth research in the Central Maryland region. At the event were BHI Chairman Scott Carmer (left) and CEO Rich Bendis (second from left).

I was happy to help celebrate the opening of the BioHealth Innovation’s new headquarters at the historic Wire Hardware Building in Rockville. BHI was established as a public-private partnership to accelerate the technology transfer and commercialization of biohealth research in Maryland, and that’s a great thing for Montgomery County. Congratulations BHI. We're glad to have you in Rockville.

-Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Council Member

Maryland

Technology job openings surged by 8.2% in June, according to job-search site SimplyHired, but some places remain better than others if you’re looking for a tech job. The site's top and bottom five contain a few surprises.

SimplyHired bases its ranking on the number of tech job openings compared to the number of people who are working in the region. The numbers below are based on metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. census bureau.

1. Baltimore, Maryland (46,150 people employed, 14,093 tech job openings): Hunter Sherman, the chief engineer at Sparks, Maryland-based BizBrag, Inc., said the company is struggling to find qualified people to fill its jobs. As a result, BizBrag is planning to move. “A big part of our issue is that we're just north of the city, and a majority of the engineers are located to the south, closer to the D.C. area,” Sherman said. “This is one of the major reasons that we plan on moving our business into the city in the coming months.”

Md bio enterprise

Admit it. You enjoy working in science, but weren’t always captivated by how it was taught. You aren't alone. Studies show that when students lose interest in science coursework the problem is often how science is taught - not science itself. Teachers lack the interesting curriculum and adequate support needed to provide engaging and intriguing coursework. The lack of interest among science students leaves them disinterested, bored, and unprepared to meet the challenges of a technology-driven future.

These findings have real-world consequences. Despite the heroic efforts of talented U.S. science teachers, many of our brightest young students migrate away from the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career paths that could power America's 21st century competitiveness.

Biotechs

If you’ve recently asked yourself, or someone standing next to you, “Where are all the biotech jobs?” it’s a good thing you’re reading this now.

While surveying for our latest annual Top 25 List of biotechnology companies in the Baltimore area, I asked each company whether they’re hiring any time soon, and all of these below said yes:

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The 2012 NVCA Yearbook includes a comprehensive analysis of U.S. venture capital industry statistics. The main source of data for this publication is ThomsonONE.com, the online research database of Thomson Reuters. ThomsonONE.com  is endorsed by the NVCA as the official United States venture capital activity database. The publication includes metrics regarding commitments made to venture capital funds, venture capital investments into entrepreneurial companies, and venture-backed exits (mergers and acquisitions and IPOs). The publication also includes appendices regarding portfolio company valuation guidelines, international accounting convergence and venture capital activity outside the United States.

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Noble Life Sciences, Inc., a preclinical drug development contract research organization (CRO), announced a partnership with BioFactura, Inc. (Rockville, MD), a developer and provider of proprietary technologies and services for production of biologicals.

The collaboration expands Noble’s CRO services to include the development and production of monoclonal antibody and other protein-based drugs. Through the partnership, Noble becomes the exclusive commercial contract services provider of BioFactura’s technologies and capabilities.

davidmott

Chevy Chase-based New Enterprise Associates has closed on what appears to be the largest venture fund in history at $2.6 billion, the firm announced Wednesday.

NEA’s 14th fund gives the VC titan a fresh pool of capital to inject into tech companies along a wide array of stages, sectors and geographies, and comes two and a half years after the firm closed on a thirteenth fund that was only slightly less mammoth. NEA is among the most prolific startup funders in the D.C. region, both in biotech and information technology.

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How time flies.

Just last year, many of us in the Baltimore technology community were talking about whether our city needed an accelerator program. The Emerging Technology Center, with the help of the Abell Foundation, stepped up and provided one.

The first class of four companies graduate tomorrow. And one of the graduates, NoBadGift.com, is moving out to San Francisco for three months to be a part of the NewMe accelerator program. Great news for that team of three entrepreneurs.

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Yesterday it was a pleasure to attend the BioHealth Innovation Inc. (BHI) open house at the historic Wire Hardware Building in Rockville to celebrate the opening of the organization’s new headquarters. At the Open House, BHI President & CEO Rich Bendis welcomed guests and introduced Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett who talked about the important role of BHI and this industry – not just for the county, but for the entire state of Maryland.

Johns Hopkins University

Could a low-cost screening device connected to a cell phone save thousands of women and children from anemia-related deaths and disabilities?

That’s the goal of Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering undergraduates who’ve developed a noninvasive way to identify women with this dangerous blood disorder in developing nations. The device, HemoGlobe, is designed to convert the existing cell phones of health workers into a “prick-free” system for detecting and reporting anemia at the community level.

Qiagen

QIAGEN N.V. announced results of operations for the second quarter and first half of 2012, delivering a solid performance and making significant progress on strategic initiatives to drive innovation and growth. QIAGEN also raised the outlook for full-year net sales and adjusted EPS targets and announced a program to repurchase up to $100 million of its shares.

In the second quarter of 2012, net sales grew 9% (+14% at constant exchange rates, or CER) to $307.2 million from the same period in 2011, as all customer classes, particularly Molecular Diagnostics and Applied Testing, and all regions recorded growth. Adjusted operating income rose 10% to $86.4 million, as the adjusted operating income margin was steady at 28% of net sales. Adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) grew to $0.25 from $0.23 in the 2011 quarter.

Congress

Companion bills were introduced in Congress on April 25th of this year with little fanfare (particularly in comparison to the Leahy-Smith American Invents Act) but they have the potential to provide significant funding for university-related start-up companies.  The bills, H.R. 4720 and S. 2369, are entitled the "America Innovates Act of 2012" and are sponsored by Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Timothy Bishop (D-NY) in the House of Representatives and Sens. Frank Lautenberg, Jerrod Brown (D-OH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the Senate.  They have been referred to their respective committees (the House Sub-Committee on Technology and Innovation and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), but to be frank it is unlikely that they will receive positive action in this election year.

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BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a regional private-public partnership focusing on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding in Central Maryland, has located its corporate headquarters in the Wire Hardware Building at 22 Baltimore Road in Rockville.

BHI also announced the creation of two new staff positions filled by recent hires Ethan Byler as Director of Innovation Programs and Amanda Wilson as Operations Manager.

Maryland

Venture capital investment in Maryland companies in the second quarter plummeted to its lowest level in almost 16 years, according to a new report.

In eight deals, investors pumped $25.5 million into state businesses during the quarter. It was the first time such investments have fallen below $30 million since the fourth quarter of 1996, when eight deals totaling $16 million were made, according to the new MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters.

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BioHealth Innovation Inc. is adding staff and office space to expand its operations in central Maryland.

The Rockville-based organization has created a new position, director of innovation programs, to lead the organization’s effort to help Maryland companies get a greater share of federal funding intended for near-commercialization projects. BioHealth Innovation is a public-private nonprofit organization that helps biohealth companies access funding to commercialize research and connects research outlets with the biotech industry.

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When it comes to the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus, membership truly does have its privileges. And the 26 attendees of the recent Executive Breakfast can certainly tell you a thing or two about it. Representatives from 10 of the companies housed on the campus, as well as one potential new company, gathered to provide updates on company activities and to learn more about BioHealth Innovation, Inc., from the organization’s CEO, Rich Bendis.

After a period of networking amongst the attendees, which included Dr. Theodore Abraham, Associate Dean for Research in the Capital Region, Johns Hopkins Medicine, attendees provided information about their research on campus. And each presentation made it clear that members of the community are applying their expertise to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. They are reaching across the borders of not only Maryland but the United States and the world. International activities included Open Health Systems Laboratory’s ties in India and TruBios’ work in Latin and South America.

Bylar wilson

BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a regional private-public partnership focusing on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding in Central Maryland, announced today that it has located its corporate headquarters in the historic Wire Hardware Building at 22 Baltimore Road in Rockville. BHI also announced the creation of two new staff positions filled by recent hires Ethan Byler as Director of Innovation Programs and Amanda Wilson as Operations Manager.

"Choosing the historic Wire Hardware Building as operational headquarters for BHI is symbolic of the marrying of the deep roots of this region with the untapped potential for truly inspirational advancement of the biohealth industry here, which is a primary goal of BHI," said Richard Bendis, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. President & Chief Executive Officer. "Opening our new offices in Montgomery County and welcoming our new staff are key steps to ensuring the success of BHI and demonstrate our firm commitment to Central Maryland."

SBIR STTR

Proposed rules for the Small Business Innovation Research program could allow foreign-owned companies to compete for these federal R&D awards, according to the Small Business Technology Council.

“This change has the potential of sending hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars to businesses overseas,” SBTC Executive Director Jere Glover wrote in letters to Congress and President Barack Obama. “Products developed and manufactured by foreign firms with U.S. tax dollars are likely to benefit their own countries, to the detriment of American businesses.”

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Humana Inc. continues its commitment to innovation, health and well-being by partnering with Blueprint Health and working together to spark change and make a meaningful impact on the health care community.

As the exclusive health insurance platinum sponsor of the summer 2012 Blueprint Health Accelerator, Humana will work closely with program participants and other health care entrepreneurs, investors, executives and innovators that serve as mentors to the community. Blueprint Health kicked off its summer session on July 16; the intensive program provides seed capital, office space, and most critically, access to a broad range of mentors with deep healthcare, start-up and technology experience.

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MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca PLC, announced that it is restructuring its infectious disease and vaccines research, development and operations.  This will result in the closure of MedImmune’s Mountain View, CA and Santa Clara, CA sites, and consolidation of its infectious disease and vaccines research and development activities to other existing sites.  The changes are expected to be completed in 2014 to allow for a seamless transition of ongoing activities.

MedImmune’s Hayward, CA site will remain open with additional capabilities invested in the site.

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The current US healthcare system suffers from excessive bureaucracy and red tape-ism. Regulations have only made the care delivery process more complex with unnecessary delays and loss of productivity. The proposed shift to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) was an attempt to bolster efficient practice methods that enable quality care delivery. Paper health records have long since become obsolete. Paper based documentation simply cannot match the growing requirements of our healthcare system. Inherent limitations along with system inefficiencies drive the costs up, whereas outcomes are far from satisfactory. Nearly 98,000 deaths are reported each year due to negligence and medical malpractice, thus medical errors are a huge cause for concern.

Before the CMS introduced the EMR stimulus program, it had turned its attention towards medical prescribing. Medication errors cause over 7,000 fatalities each year, hence it was imperative for the government to move towards a more efficient system in e-prescribing (eRx). ’It’s unfortunate but most of the medication errors are attributable to illegibility of the prescription note or miss spellings on the part of the provider’, says a pharmacologist. E-Prescribing reduces medication errors whilst improving accuracy and accountability.

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A strange thing has happened during an otherwise bleak time for biotech venture capital. Life science venture capitalists are apparently hitting more of their investments out of the park.

There were 17 so-called “Big Exits” for investors in privately held biotech companies, and 18 in the medical device business in 2011, the most of any year since 2005 in a new set of data analyzed by Silicon Valley Bank. For this analysis, a “Big Exit” was counted each time a venture-backed life sciences company was acquired, and the up-front payment was worth at least $75 million. Although many of these “Big Exit” acquisitions are structured to include milestone payments that can make the deals more lucrative over time, those future payments often don’t materialize, and they weren’t factored in to the SVB analysis of investment returns.

The purpose of this funding opportunity (FOA) is to improve hearing health care outcomes and reduce health disparities through the development and commercialization of improved devices for hearing health care (HHC).  For the purposes of this FOA, “hearing health care” is defined as assessment and access to hearing aids and nonmedical treatment, including hearing screening and hearing assessment as well as acquiring an appropriate device and services for the individual’s hearing loss and communication needs.  Appropriate technologies must have the following basic characteristics: easily affordable, effective, culturally acceptable, and accessible to those who need them. 

This announcement calls for applications to develop devices and other technologies that address the HHC needs of the nation, including health disparity populations.  Generally, health disparity populations include racial and ethnic minorities, the rural and urban poor, and other medically underserved populations.

University System of Maryland

This week, the University System of Maryland (USM) announced that smoking would no longer be permitted on any of the 12 USM campuses, including the flagship University of Maryland at College Park.

The policy, which will take effect on June 30, 2013, prohibits smoking on campus grounds, outdoor structures, and in school vehicles. Each university president, however, will be able to designate a “very limited area” where smoking may occur without interfering with the health of others.

DHHS

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius joined First Lady Michelle Obama and local officials from across the country to announce the next chapter in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties program, which encourages local elected officials to focus on improving the health of their communities.

Secretary Sebelius announced five goals for local officials to achieve within the next year to address obesity and help communities be healthier. These goals align with Let’s Move!’s five basic pillars.

“Make no mistake, childhood obesity is a national problem and demands everyone’s attention.  But it’s a problem that can’t be solved just at the national level.   We can make a significant impact, city by city, town by town, county by county,” Secretary Sebelius said.

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US regulators took a step into the unknown this week when they approved the first drug to prevent HIV infection. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Margaret Hamburg hailed the pill, Truvada, as a tool for reducing the rate of infection in the United States, where 50,000 people are diagnosed each year. But the drug combines low doses of two anti­retroviral agents normally used to treat infection, and some researchers fear that its use in healthy people could have unacceptable side effects and spark the emergence of resistant viruses.

US insurers must now decide whether they will pay for Truvada, which costs roughly US$10,000 for a year’s supply. Moreover, health-policy experts must script guidelines on how to prescribe it, and how to monitor side effects and HIV infections in people using the drug. “There are a lot of questions about how to implement it,” says Connie Celum, an HIV researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, who led a large trial of the drug in East Africa and has begun studies to answer practical delivery questions, such as which subsets of people are at highest risk.

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Science Applications International Corp.'s $473 million acquisition of maxIT Healthcare Holdings Inc. will more than double the company's commercial health care business and make good on a two-year strategy to expand SAIC's presence in that market, company executives told Washington Business Journal Wednesday.

The deal, announced Tuesday evening and expected to close in August, will create a health care business worth just north of $850 million and add about 1,300 employees to the SAIC workforce. Westfield, Ind.-based maxIT will function as a wholly owned subsidiary, with no layoffs planned and additional hires anticipated.

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Health benefits and health care company Humana Inc. has agreed to sponsor Blueprint Health, a New York City-based business accelerator for entrepreneurs in the health care and well-being industry.

According to a news release, Louisville-based Humana will be the exclusive health insurance platinum sponsor of the summer 2012 Blueprint Health Accelerator. Terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University and 11 other universities are teaming up with a for-profit company founded by two Stanford University computer science professors to offer free Internet courses worldwide, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The schools joined four others already working with Coursera, a for-profit education technology company, which will offer over 100 online courses beginning this fall, the WSJ reported.

NIH Careers

The NIH is the premier biomedical research center for the world. Its 27 Institutes and Centers employ approximately 18,000 employees doing a vast array of jobs, all supporting efforts for a healthy nation. For information on the NIH mission, goals, and Institutes and Centers, visit NIH Overview.

As part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mission to support biomedical research and reduce the burden of illness worldwide, the NIH Roadmap Initiative outlines the need to position the NIH to address the evolving public health challenges of the 21st Century and to enhance public-private partnerships. To support this mission, the NIH Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) is working to address global health challenges by facilitating the transfer of technologies to people around the world.