Johns Hopkins University

In a commentary to be published in the Dec. 12 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, two Johns Hopkins faculty members predict an ever-diminishing role for government and drug company funding of basic biomedical research and suggest scientists look to "innovative" kinds of private investment for future resources. Current negotiations in Washington over sequestration and the so-called "fiscal cliff" provide an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the funding of biomedical research, they say.

Pointing to a decade of flat government funding for biomedical research, higher-than-ever costs of clinical trials, reduced drug industry investment and the threat of deep cuts to the federal research budget without congressional action by January to stop them, the commentators warn that without "creative" new sources of funding, biomedical innovation faces a crisis.

montgomery-county-ariel

Businesses that receive economic development money from Montgomery County soon might have to share some of their profit with the county government.

A bill being introduced in the Montgomery County Council would give the county up to 25 percent ownership in companies that receive economic development funds. That means if a company is successful, the county can profit off it.

Steve Silverman, director of the county Department of Economic Development, said the county currently gives forgivable loans to companies that promise to create a certain number of jobs and occupy a certain amount of space in a certain time period. He said it makes sense for the county to consider having a stake in companies it invests in.

TATRC-medical-research

The goal of the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC) is to translate research into new products to advance the care of the Nation’s war fighters. TATRC is deeply aware that it must encourage that next breakthrough to enhance military health, while making effective use of the federal funds that it stewards.

To determine what it should fund, TATRC must decide whether a new technology solves an important problem and who would purchase it. While all TATRC project proposals are expected to provide detail on commercial potential, the reality is that many researchers do not have the knowledge or resources to assess this effectively and develop a commercialization strategy on their own.

Download the PDF: TATRC’s Technology Transfer/Commercialization Program could be a model for speeding viable medical innovations to the warfighter

agtc-logo

Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation, (AGTC), a privately-held, clinical stage biotechnology company developing gene therapy products to treat rare retinal diseases, announced today that it has secured $37.5 million in a Series B round of financing.

Alta Partners and S.R. One, Limited led the financing, with new investor Osage University Partners joining existing investors InterWest,Intersouth Partners and MedImmune Ventures in the round. The funding will allow AGTC to continue development of its Phase 2 program in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and initiate full development of potential treatments for two orphan ophthalmology indications, Achromatopsia (ACHM) and X-Linked Rentinoschisis (XLRS).

xconomy-logo2

Established companies such as Dell Computer (NASDAQ: DELL) and Becton Dickinson (NYSE: BDX) say they are eager to invest in health IT startups—they just need to figure out how the U.S. healthcare system is going to evolve over the next five years; what applications are most likely to get reimbursed; what technologies make the most sense for doctors, for patients, and for insurers; and how they can mesh a startup’s culture with highly regulated, slow-to-change industries.

That was the confusing message from a conference for entrepreneurs and investors in New York on Tuesday, sponsored by the Life Sciences Angel Network, titled Healthcare Information Technology: Change, Outlook & Opportunity. One of the speakers, Steve Hochberg, has started or invested in some 12 early-stage medical technology companies, and last year was named chairman of Continuum Health Partners, New York City’s largest hospital network. Yet he told the meeting that when it comes to health IT, “the healthcare delivery system is so complicated that I’ve chosen to invest elsewhere.”

idea-box

There’s a new early stage angel fund in town, and it’s on the hunt for creative, out-of-the box ideas for improving the delivery of healthcare using fewer resources.

The Alliance Healthcare Fund focuses on helping early stage business-to-business healthcare companies bring to market ideas that improve acute care, reduce spending and challenge the status quo.

In pure dollar terms, it’s a relatively small fund, but partner Joe Mayernik said the real value comes elsewhere.

Techcouncilmd

The Tech Council of Maryland, Maryland's largest technology trade association with more than 400 biotechnology and technology members employing more than 200,000 in the region, today announced that Art Jacoby is stepping down from his CEO duties effective February 15, 2013 to return full-time to his consulting practice. TCM has commenced an executive search to identify its next CEO.

"I want to thank Art for his exemplary leadership of TCM," said Larry Letow, chairman of the Tech Council, who also is president and CEO of Convergence Consulting. "We have accomplished a great deal during his tenure and wish him success in his consulting practice. Moving forward, the TCM Board will conduct a thorough executive search that takes into consideration the valuable insights of TCM stakeholders. We look forward to identifying the best possible leader to advance TCM's mission of helping Maryland technology companies collaborate, grow and succeed."

canadian-flag

As healthcare providers implement the changeover to electronic medical records and meaningful use requirements, the opportunities seen by health IT companies aren’t restricted to US businesses. The Consulate General of Canada in Philadelphia is planning to launch a health IT accelerator at the beginning of next year. The goal? To help Canadian companies to chase a significantly larger market with the potential to grow US jobs in the process.

Vincent Finn, a Philadelphia-based trade commissioner with the Consulate General of Canada, said the initiative has the potential to create high-paid jobs. Canada has already established technology accelerators in San Francisco and New York and a clean energy accelerator in New York. The companies selected for the health IT accelerator at the University City Science Center will be among those Canadian companies participating in the upcoming eHealth summit scheduled for November 28.

NewImage

The latest joint venture between the University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore will combine computer know-how from College Park and Baltimore’s wealth of medical researchers.

The Center for Health-related Informatics and Bioimaging will focus on projects that use technological advancements to improve medicine and patient care. The overarching goal will be to advance the idea of personalized medicine, through which doctors use advance technology and biomedical information to tailor treatment decisions to individual patients.

medimmune-logo

When Gail Folena-Wasserman joined Gaithersburg biotechnology startup MedImmune in 1991, she was its first employee in research and development, and dreamed of what the company might be "when it grew up."

Two decades later, the senior vice president for biopharmaceutical development is helping to test new drugs at a dramatically different MedImmune. Five years since a $15 billion acquisition by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, the company is funneling a pipeline of potential therapies that has grown three times over and covers a wider spectrum of diseases.

startup-maryland-website

 Startup Maryland is proud to announce that CoFounders Lab (Rockville, Md.) has claimed the top spot in its Pitch Across Maryland competition. The company was named the winner in the video pitch competition at the Maryland Entrepreneur Expo on November 13, by a panel of distinguished judges. The judges also named Woofound (Baltimore, Md.) as the runner-up.

As the winner and runner-up, CoFounders Lab and Woofound will receive free entry and bypass the first round of judging in the InvestMaryland Challenge, a national seed and early-stage business competition hosted by the State of Maryland. All Pitch Across Maryland participants are encouraged to apply.

cofounder-lab-logo

There is a host of websites for people who want to link up for personal relationships.

CoFoundersLab of Rockville wants to do something similar, but for business relationships — specifically launching a new venture.

The company has attracted notice from many local entrepreneurs. Judges who viewed the video that CoFoundersLab submitted to the Startup Maryland pitch contest in September liked the concept enough to name it the winner of the “Pitch Across Maryland” contest this week over almost 200 competitors.

arizona-furnace

Arizona's first-of-its-kind statewide technology transfer startup program, AZ Furnace Accelerator, is pleased to announce it has selected the first 10 startups that will participate in the business accelerator program. As part of the competitive process, a panel of judges selected the 10 winners from a group of 22 finalists and more than 50 applicants.

The AZ Furnace Accelerator is a groundbreaking initiative that encourages entrepreneurs from across the country to find and commercialize innovations developed within the state's universities and research institutions. These 10 winning companies utilized innovations from Arizona State University, Dignity Health Arizona, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona. They represent a wide array of technologies and innovative solutions — from biomarkers for disease diagnosis to new methods for massive data storage to repurposing discarded tires for new concrete and construction materials:

asking-for-money

The first question most people seem to ask when contemplating a new startup is where they will get investor money. That’s certainly a valid question, but all the money in the world won’t make your business a success if you hate what you are doing, and you don’t have a plan to use it. I suggest that there are several other questions even more important than the money one.

The best way to assure the success of your startup is to do something you love, as opposed to something that will make you a lot of money. Of course, all these things and many more are critical, so it’s important that you keep your priorities straight. Here are the right questions to ask yourself, in the right order, before asking others about money:

mckenzie-brenda-baltimore-dev-corp

Brenda McKenzie, a high-ranking economic development official in Boston, is expected to be named on Monday as the next president of the Baltimore Development Corp., according to multiple sources.

McKenzie joined the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2008 and is currently the agency's director of economic development. Prior to her time in Boston, she managed government and external affairs in Starbucks Coffee Co.’s corporate social responsibility division. McKenzie also spent 11 years working in city government in Chicago, rising to the role of deputy commissioner of the Chicago Planning and Development Department.

startup-md-bus-oc

Startup Maryland, today announced the 8 Finalist for the Pitch Across Maryland competition.  After posting the 168 video pitches from Maryland entrepreneurs that were captured during the three-week Pitch Across Maryland bus tour, Startup Maryland is proud to reveal the Eight (8) Finalists that were selected by a panel of entrepreneur and investor experts.

The following link takes you to a Playlist with the 8 Finalists:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBN03TRv8YYfeHdh_p9eiKVx-VG5qIK3o

halpem-jeremy-xconomy

What happens when the FDA approval process slows down and imposes higher hurdles, when cost-reduction becomes central to the healthcare provider business model, when clinical trials and commercialization costs for medical devices and biotechnology products spiral through the roof, and when exit returns are compressed by general economic conditions and the decline of the IPO market?

Venture capital funding for early stage life science companies markedly contracts. In fact, venture capital funding for these companies declined consistently over the last few years. Even if federal grant funding for basic research increases, there will still remain the proverbial “valley of death” in funding the necessary first steps of translating research into products and ideas into companies. The emerging life sciences company must find a bridge to the development and commercialization of new life-saving technologies.

maryland-opportunity

Commemorating a year that positioned Maryland as a national leader in the innovation economy, DBED has released its FY 2012 Annual Report. Highlights include the continued progress of InvestMaryland, the passage of the Maryland Innovation Initiative, successful trade missions to India and Asia, and the development of interactive tools for businesses including a mobile-friendly website, an online site selection database, an interactive map and Finance Tracker. DBED helped create or retain more than 7,335 jobs and leveraged $661 million in capital investment through 111 projects. In addition, Maryland visitors spent $13.1 billion on travel expenses and the Maryland State Arts Council awarded more than $11 million in grants.

Maryland

Maryland is the nation’s second best educated state with 36.9 percent of its population aged 25 or over holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, 24/7 Wall St. reported, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s’ American Community Survey.

Additionally, 16.5 percent of the population holds a graduate or professional degree of some kind, ranking only behind Massachusetts, the business news site said.

invest-maryland-challenge

As part of today’s Maryland Entrepreneur Expo 2012 hosted by TEDCO, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) Secretary Christian S. Johansson announced that the State has invested $1.1 million in three start-up companies through the InvestMaryland program. Rockville-based Maxtena will receive a $560,000 investment, and two Baltimore companies – Bambeco and PathSensors – will receive investments of $400,000 and $200,000, respectively. The investments are among the first made through the State’s $84 million venture capital program. The first investment was $250,000 to Bethesda-based Brainscope in September.

“When we make strategic investments in cutting-edge companies like Maxtena, PathSensors and Bambeco, we are strengthening Maryland’s leadership in the Innovation Economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “With a total of $84 million to invest in the State’s best and brightest start-ups, we are stimulating our economy and creating jobs not just for today, but for generations to come.”

king-rachel-glycomimetics

On November 8, 2012, the BioPark hosted Rachel King, CEO of GlycoMimetics, as part of its Business of Bio speaker series. Ms. King spoke before an active, question-filled audience from the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore and from bioscience companies throughout the region.

Opening her discussion with a review of the venture financing climate within the life sciences industry during 2012, Ms. King said, “There is a challenge today with respect to the risk level that a venture capitalist is willing to take. Investments are going towards later-stage programs. That’s not to say early deals don’t get done – but they are harder to secure.”

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Not that long ago, biotech executives weren’t sure who to call on Wall Street, or whether anyone would answer the phone. In late 2008 and early 2009, nobody could say for sure who would still be around in a couple years to supply capital to aspiring drugmakers.

Partly inspired by all the recent election-year reflection, I decided to look back at what biotech executives were saying about the financial crisis during some of the darker moments in January 2009. It was a scary time for the industry. Check this comment from an interview with Richard Pops, the CEO of Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference that year:

cdc-bateria

GlaxoSmithKline, the new owner of Rockville's Human Genome Sciences, cleared a significant regulatory hurdle last week when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel overwhelmingly recommended that its anthrax treatment be approved.

Under a federal contract, HGS began work on raxibacumab, which it brands ABthrax, shortly after the anthrax attacks in September 2001 that infected 11 people, killing five of them.

Medimmune logo

MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca PLC operating through various affiliates in the AstraZeneca Group, has approximately 5,500 full-time employees and contractors worldwide and is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. MedImmune is a $1 billion corporation with plans and aspirations to be a $10 billion corporation by 2020. TEKsystems has been a MedImmune partner since 2001.

Project Overview Following its acquisition by AstraZeneca, MedImmune decided to reallocate, and in some cases eliminate, a variety of roles in its IT department in favor of outsourcing a few key IT support functions to an alternative vendor. This change left MedImmune with a very small technical staff mostly comprised of service delivery managers tasked with managing the outputs from the vendor.

medimmune-synagis

Gaithersburg-based MedImmune is the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca PLC, with approximately 3,500 employees worldwide.

MedImmune’s Synagis® product is the first monoclonal antibody approved for the prevention of an infectious disease, as well as the first such drug to be safely used in children.

Synagis® prevents a serious lower respiratory tract disease caused by the respiratory synctial virus (RSV), prominent in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter months. RSV is the most common respiratory infection for infants and children. Approximately 50 percent of all infants are infected with RSV during their first year of life; nearly all children have been infected at least once by the time they reach their second birthday.

qiagen-initiative

QIAGEN N.V. has announced the first product launches in its initiative to advance routine workflows in next-generation sequencing (NGS) applications. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in San Francisco, QIAGEN will present four new products that improve critical sample preparation processes in the pre-analytical phase of next-generation sequencing. At ASHG, QIAGEN also will provide an outlook on additional pre-analytical products under development for advanced NGS workflow solutions, which are planned for launch in early 2013.

The QIAGEN pre-analytical products are “universal,” compatible with any NGS platform in the market and functional in a wide range of NGS applications. They represent the first launches in the QIAGEN initiative unveiled earlier this year, which aims to integrate sample preparation products and novel assay technologies into complete workflows for next-generation sequencing.

next-wave-pharm-logo

Medical innovation is the key to addressing the big unmet needs in neurodegeneration, metabolic and heart disease, cancer, among many other conditions.  Not only do new therapeutics and devices aimed at this diseases offer clinical promise, but they also can provide significant health economics benefits.

This combination – clinically meaningful advance coupled with sound economics – is what those of us in the life science R&D funding ecosystem focus on every day.  On the venture side, figuring out how to generate returns from medical advances requires us to innovate both with regards to products and business models.

comber-steve-saic

SAIC has won several contracts this quarter totaling approximately $242 million from the government and commercial healthcare industry, the company announced today.

“This has been an important quarter for our health solutions team, as we work to unify our commercial healthcare teams and leverage their skills across both the commercial and federal markets,” said Steve Comber, SAIC senior vice president and health solutions business unit general manager.

cap-nih-logo

Applications Deadline EXTENDED: November 14, 2012 Program Selection: November 21, 2012

What is CAP?

The NIH Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) is a specialized technical assistance program for SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees. CAP is designed to help promising small life science companies develop their commercial businesses and transition their SBIR/STTR - developed technologies into the marketplace.

Assisting small businesses is a top priority for the NIH in ensuring the success of the SBIR/STTR programs and maximizing the agency's investment. Since the program's inception in 2003, NIH has provided approximately 700 participants with individualized assistance toward accomplishing their commercialization goals. This is achieved through training workshops, individual mentoring and consulting sessions, as well as public events in which companies present their technologies to the investment community, potential strategic partners and licensees.

nih-logo

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins debuted his new NIH Director's Blog last week. The blog, he wrote, is designed to "highlight new discoveries in biology and medicine that I think are game changers, noteworthy, or just plain cool." Posts so far have featured video from a recent "Celebration of Science" event held at NIH and information about the Human Connectome Project, an NIH-funded project created to map the brain's neural connections.

ahrq-logo

A new guide funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) “Designing Consumer Health IT: A Guide for Developers and Systems Designers” presents suggested recommendations for designers and developers of consumer health IT products. Recommendations included are either general guidance for designers and design teams that can be applied to the process of designing and developing a product; or specific to a design phase such as idea generation, identification of end users, testing and commercialization. The guide presents results of an environmental scan and grey literature review; and expert interviews to improve consumer health IT design in order to increase effective use of consumer health IT. Select to access this report (PDF file, 299 MB), http://healthit.ahrq.gov/developmentmethodsguide.

frontiers-in-science-and-medicine

Learning CPR was the best part of Anne Selby’s day on Oct. 26. For her classmate Daniel Aguilar, it was learning how to operate robotic limbs.

Anne said when she grows up, she wants to be a nurse or a teacher. Daniel said he wants to be a mechanic.

The seventh-graders at Forest Oak Middle School viewed Frontiers in Science and Medicine Day, which took place at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, as an exciting learning experience outside the classroom.

maryland-voters

Undocumented immigrants will begin paying in-state tuition rates at Maryland public colleges and universities in the wake of voters’ overwhelming support of the policy Tuesday at the ballot box.

Thirteen other states have adopted measures similar to the Maryland Dream Act, but it is the first of its kind to have survived a statewide popular vote.

ambit-biosciences-logo

Ambit Biosciences Inc. has closed a $25 million of a new $50 million financing, the company announced. Existing investor OrbiMed Advisors led the financing with participation from other existing investors including Aisling Capital, Apposite Healthcare,Roche Ventures, GrowthWorks, MedImmune Ventures, Forward Ventures, GIMV, and Radius Ventures. Ambit is a biopharmaceutical company developing “small molecule kinase inhibitors” for the treatment of cancer, inflammatory disease and other conditions.

“2012 has been a pivotal year of progress for Ambit, and this financing is a reflection of that progress and the momentum we have built as a team,” said Michael Martino, President and CEO of Ambit. “We’ve received the data from our large, 333 patient Phase 2 trial of quizartinib in patients with relapsed/refractory AML, and we are excited to present that data at ASH in Atlanta in December. We’ve refocused and prioritized our work on earlier stage pipeline assets, including our oral JAK2 and CSF1R inhibitor programs, and re-energized the team. This financing, with OrbiMed Advisors leading a round in which all existing investors participated, is a strong vote of confidence in our direction and provides the resources to accelerate our progress in 2013.”"

hrabowski-freeman-umbc-president

Being one of the top institutions for higher education in the nation is something the UMBC community prides itself on. To continue along the ambitious path UMBC has already made, President Freeman A. Hrabowski III has created the Fund for Innovation Competition.

"I anticipate the advancements proposed will reflect the long standing dedication and commitment of our faculty to support the success of students" said Philip Rous, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. Rous, along with other UMBC administration officials, has worked hard organizing and developing the framework for the competition.