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Further substantiating the school’s title as one of the most forward-thinking, cutting edge institutions the nation has to offer, the University of Maryland (UMD) has announced the launch of their first ever Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship today.

Due to launch in Fall 2013, the new Academy will instill a sense a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship into all areas of curriculum and colleges with the addition of classes, workshops and real world affairs that will allow students to truly grasp the meaning and need for creativity in the workplace.

health-tracking

It may just be early adopter tech types who log every step they take or calorie they burn using Fitbits, Nike Fuelbands, and other devices, but that hardly means they’re the only ones who track their health.

About 7 in 10 American adults told the Pew Internet & American Life Project that they track a health indicator like weight, diet, exercise or a symptom. But despite growing buzz around the “quantified self” movement and the explosion of gadgets and apps that help people measure and analyze everything from their activity and sleep patterns to blood glucose levels and other vital signs, just a small slice of health trackers rely on high tech devices.

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New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has pledged a $350 million gift to Johns Hopkins University to support interdisciplinary research and student financial aid, a commitment that will push his lifetime donations to his alma mater to more than $1 billion, the university announced Saturday.

Hopkins officials said they believe that Bloomberg will become the first person to reach the $1 billion level of giving to a single U.S. institution of higher education — an assertion that’s hard to verify because many donors give anonymously to universities. It is also difficult to compare the dollar value of modern donations to those in earlier eras.

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TCM is proud to announce that Governor Martin O'Malley will be the featured speaker at TCM’s Leadership Dinner.  The Governor will talk about Maryland’s knowledge economy, his legislative priorities and what’s in store for technology and biotechnology in 2013.  Our annual Leadership Dinner in Annapolis brings together the region’s technology and life sciences sectors to network and learn about important policy issues.   TCM will also share its legislative priorities for 2013.

We hope you can join us.  Last year we had over 150 executives, TCM’s Board of Directors and 50 members from the Maryland General Assembly in attendance.

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NHLBI Funding and Research Opportunities

The following funding opportunities from the NHLBI or other components of the National Institutes of Health, might be of interest:

NIH Guide Notices:

Please note that most links to RFAs, PAs, and Guide Notices will take you to the NIH Web site. RFPs will take you to FedBizOpps. Links to RFPs will not work past their proposal receipt date. Archived versions of RFPs posted on FedBizOpps can be found on the FedBizOpps site using the FedBizOpps search function. Under “Document to Search,” select Archived Documents.

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Venture capital firm SR One has launched “OneStart,” its first business plan competition, in association with Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. OneStart is designed to inspire and encourage its participants to become the next generation of European bio- entrepreneurs. The £100,000 winner-takes-all prize will be the largest of its kind in the world. Uniquely, OneStart will actively connect individuals from a range of institutions and backgrounds.

OneStart is open to aspiring life science entrepreneurs age 35 and younger who are studying or working in Europe. The competition will be run in stages and cover four tracks: drug discovery, medical devices, diagnostics and health information technology. The competition will team up those who have developed a technology or idea, such as academics, with individuals who have complementary backgrounds and skills, e.g. business school students, or young professionals from pharma or biotech.

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Emergent BioSolutions Inc., a pharmaceutical company, has initiated the Phase II clinical trial for NuThrax or AV7909, with the dosing of the first subject.

NuThrax, a next generation vaccine being developed as part of Emergent's anthrax franchise, consists of Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed in combination with a novel immune stimulatory adjuvant, CPG 7909.

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A £50m venture capital fund focusing on early-stage life science and health technology companies has been launched in Scotland.

Rock Spring Ventures said it had already secured commitments worth more than £25m from a range of investors.

Backers include the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

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Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering is collaborating with universities around the country on a project to create robots that work more efficiently with people. The National Science Foundation has funded the four-year, $3.5-million human-robot interaction research project, part of the National Robotics Initiative, a federal effort.   

“In the world of robotics, there are two natural extremes: the completely autonomous robot and the fully technically-operated robot,” says Gregory Hager, chair of the computer science department at the engineering school.

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District-based Acceleprise, a business accelerator program for companies that sell technology or services to other companies or organizations, is expanding in an effort to serve more start-ups and raise its national profile.

Started last spring, the program is the brainchild of managing partner Sean Glass and partners Allen Gannett and Collin Gutman. In addition to a $30,000 investment, participating start-ups spend several months honing business models and products at the Acceleprise office.

Quadruple-Helix

In 1953, Cambridge researchers Watson and Crick published a paper describing the interweaving ‘double helix’ DNA structure – the chemical code for all life.

Now, in the year of that scientific landmark’s 60th Anniversary, Cambridge researchers have published a paper proving that four-stranded ‘quadruple helix’ DNA structures – known as G-quadruplexes – also exist within the human genome. They form in regions of DNA that are rich in the building block guanine, usually abbreviated to ‘G’.

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Baltimore City’s technology incubator, ETC  (Emerging Technology Center), announced today that six companies have been selected to participate in the 2013 AccelerateBaltimore™ program –a 50% increase from the first AccelerateBaltimore™-. The program received over 120 applications from all over the world. The three month accelerator will kick off on February 4, 2013. 

“The quality of the applications and the number of participants was amazing. It made the job of choosing the final participants very difficult,” says Deb Tillett, President of ETC. “We had the help of some professionals from the tech community and it was a challenging but fun process. Congratulations and thanks to all I can’t wait to get started.”

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Companies in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. raised a paltry $94.9 million in venture funding in the last three months of 2012, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP MoneyTree report, marking one of the shabbiest quarters in years.

The region hasn't seen this weak of a fundraising total since the $89.7 million raised in the first quarter of 2009, according to historical MoneyTree data. Excluding that period, the end of 2012 would have ranked as the worst quarter since the first quarter of 1997.

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Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., recently signed a license agreement for the manufacture and sale of VaxInnate Corporation’s recombinant influenza vaccine.

The deal is considered to be a step in the right direction towards preparing the United States for the event of a major influenza pandemic. The licensing agreement grants Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., the right to manufacture and sell VaxInnate’s pandemic flu vaccine in the United States. VaxInnate, in turn, will receive payments and royalties associated with vaccine’s production and sale.

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Bicoastal venture titan New Enterprise Associates ranked as the most active VC firm in the country last year, according to investment research firm CB Insights.

NEA, which has major offices in Chevy Chase, beat out Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, Andreesen Horowitz and other top VCs, according to the report, which attributes NEA's exuberance to its shiny new $2.6 billion fund. Major NEA deals last year include Sonatype Inc., Desire2Learn, 10Gen and Lithium Technologies.

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Gov. Martin O'Malley released a $37 billion spending plan Wednesday that for the first time in recent years contains no drastic cuts or proposed tax increases.

Amid a stronger economy, O'Malley also proposed to boost the pay for state workers, expand tax credits for some high-tech industries and set aside more money to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

"These have been challenging years to say the least," O'Malley said.

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Another day, another class of digital health startups. That’s how it feels sometimes, with so many accelerators working with dozens of new companies each year. While there are plenty of “me-too” startups entering crowded markets, accelerators are still managing to find some fresh and interesting gems.

Blueprint Health’s winter program kicks off this week with the addition of Verizon, Humana and Aetna as partners, as TechCrunch reports. It’s also brought on mentors from powerhouses like the Cleveland Clinic, Optum, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Weight Watchers.

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British healthcare firm GlaxoSmithKline has filed for US regulatory approval of its new type 2 diabetes drug albiglutide, which belongs to the same group of injectable GLP-1 receptor agonists as Byetta, Bydureon and Victoza .

GSK announced on Monday that it had submitted the once-weekly medication to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval and confirmed that it also plans to seek European Union regulatory approval for the new product in 2013.

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Peter Greenleaf is stepping down down as president of Gaithersburg-based biotechnology giant MedImmune, according to a company spokesman, to take the helm of parent company AstraZeneca’s Latin America business.

He will be replaced by Bahija Jallal, who currently serves as MedImmune’s executive vice president of research and development. Jallal joined the company in 2006 as vice president of translational sciences.

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MedImmune executive Bahija Jallal will be the new chief of the Gaithersburg biotech under a leadership shuffle by parent company AstraZeneca, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday. Current MedImmune President Peter Greenleaf will lead AstraZeneca's Latin American business.

Jallal, who joined MedImmune in 2006 as a vice president of translational sciences, has also been promoted to AstraZeneca's senior executive team, according to an announcement on Tuesday. That announcement, however, left unclear exactly how her role at MedImmune would change, and how that change would affect Greenleaf.

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There might be a lot of griping about how tight the venture capital world is when it comes to funding medical devices, but reality seems to be spinning a different yarn altogether.

A new funding report from CB Insights, a venture capital database, describes the medical device industry as the “sector darling” of VCs who invested in healthcare in the fourth quarter of 2012. In fact medical device deals comprised 42 percent of the overall number of healthcare deals done in the fourth quarter of last year. By comparison biotech deals stood at 15 percent, drug development at 13 percent and pharmaceuticals at 10 percent.

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The buzz around biotechnology investing that could be felt this year at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference could reach the beleaguered medical-device sector as well.

But it won’t be a spate of IPOs—and the headlines they generate–that re-ignites interest in device companies, several investors said.

"What we are really hoping to see in 2013 are great new products approved, and put on the market," said Ryan Drant, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates and a board member at the Medical Device Manufacturers Association.

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one bajillion times. If you’re going to start a business accelerator, don’t clone Y Combinator or TechStars. Find a niche. With the glut of new accelerators today, the most successful are building vertical-specific approaches that bring together seed capital with meaningful industry partnerships to create real business (and learning) opportunities for their startups. Lately, digital health has been leading the way in this regard, as Rock Health, Healthbox, New York Digital Health Accelerator, DreamIt Health and Startup Health are all beginning to blossom.

One of the veterans (a relative term) of this space is the NYC-based Blueprint Health, an accelerator that got its start in 2011 and launched its first batch in January of last year. Today, the accelerator is announcing its third batch of startups as part of its Winter Program, which kicks off on Monday.

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Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) has launched the first cyber-security technology startup accelerator program in the U.S. The Mach37 Cyber Accelerator is intended to locate and leverage the wealth of cyber security talent in Virginia to create companies that will develop and launch new products.

Mach 37 represents 37 times the speed of sound, which is approximately the same as the Earth’s escape velocity.

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Amid the exhaustive meet-and-greet opportunities available at the 2013 JP Morgan conference, which took place in San Francisco earlier this week, we met with Jens Eckstein, who joined SR One as its latest president slightly more than a year ago. SR One, as most IV Blog readers know, is the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline, and one of the oldest corporate venture funds in the industry. In an era in which such funds are assuming an ever-more important role in early-stage funding of innovative biotech companies, SROne’s priorities and strategic direction should be of great interest.

GSK has set broad parameters for SR One, with few restrictions; the firm invests with an eye on "the future of pharma in general," not GSK, Eckstein says. GSK has never bought an SR One investment, and the firm steps aside if it sells one of its portfolio companies. He adds that the fund's priority is early-stage innovation, with innovation defined broadly as “anything that changes the way medicine is done today.” That said, as SR One’s interests move "earlier and earlier” up the value chain, the evergreen funding provided by the corporate parent eliminates funding cycles and gives the venture firm a huge advantage over independent competitors.

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The Baltimore-area ranks fourth on a new Forbes list of the hottest tech markets in the country.

The report, conducted by Praxis Strategy Group, made its calculations based on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) employment from 2001 to 2012 in the country’s 51 largest metropolitan areas.

The report says Baltimore’s STEM employment has grown 17.9 percent since 2001. In the last two years, STEM employment rose by 3.9 percent.

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The Federal Communications Commission will make $400 million available annually to healthcare providers to expand the development of broadband telehealth networks from a pilot to a permanent program. The pilot program has supported 50 provider healthcare networks in 38 states.

The telehealth networks will link urban medical centers to rural clinics or offer instant access to electronic health records (EHRs). The agency will begin accepting applications for the grants in late summer, according to the Jan. 7 announcement by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

glaxosmithkline

GlaxoSmithKline is looking to fatten its drug pipeline through another venture capital investment with a $50 million commitment to a California fund.

The drug giant on Wednesday said it would invest in the $250 million Sanderling Biotech Venture Fund. The fund will be managed out of San Mateo, Calif.

The commitment is one of several made by GSK (NYS: GSK) to several funds focused on helping emerging and early-stage companies advancing potential drug candidates. 

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Using cervical fluid obtained during routine Pap tests, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers. In a pilot study, the "PapGene" test, which relies on genomic sequencing of cancer-specific mutations, accurately detected all 24 (100 percent) endometrial cancers and nine of 22 (41 percent) ovarian cancers. Results of the experiments are published in the January 9 issue of the journal, Science Translational Medicine.

The investigators note that larger scale studies are needed before clinical implementation can begin, but they believe the test has the potential to pioneer genomic-based cancer screening tests.

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AstraZeneca has been talking about the importance of expanding its network of collaborations at the JPMorgan healthcare conference in San Francisco.

Blogging from the meeting, Shaun Grady, vice president of strategic partnering and business development at the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, noted that AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit have a team of 60 "scouting for opportunities that fit our therapeutic and commercial focus". He added that the firm has scheduled a record number of meetings at the event, approximately 320 in total.

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Venture capitalists invested $1.4 billion in digital health companies in 2012, according to a report from Rock Health, FierceHealthIT reports (Gold, FierceHealthIT, 1/8).

The figure represents a 45% increase from the $986 million invested in 2011. In addition, the total number of venture capital deals in the digital health sector increased by 56% between 2011 and 2012.

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The University of Maryland and Northrop Grumman will jointly announce the launch of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES), the nation's first cybersecurity honors program for undergraduates, at a special event on Wednesday, September 25, 2013, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Stamp Student Union Atrium on the University of Maryland College Park Campus.

The ACES program is designed to educate future leaders in the field of cybersecurity through rigorous, hands-on learning experiences, an intensive interdisciplinary curriculum, collaborative projects, and professional insight from industry and business leaders. The four-year honors program offers students a living-learning experience, giving them the opportunity to collaborate and work closely together as they pursue their advanced program of study in cybersecurity. The inaugural ACES cohort is comprised of 57 students. The ACES program is supported by a major grant from Northrop Grumman. For more information about the program, visit aces.umd.edu.

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The Tech Council of Maryland called on legislators Monday to triple the funding for the state's research and development tax credit and double the scope of its popular biotech tax credit, among other measures.

The Tech Council of Maryland places the expansion of the R&D credit from $6 million to $18 million among its top priorities for the 2013 General Assembly session, which convenes in Annapolis on Wednesday. The measure failed to win approval last year despite passing the Senate. The Tech Council also wants to see that credit made available for companies that haven't yet reached profitability.

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Life sciences company Plasmonix will begin selling its first product, QuantArray, early this year. The Baltimore County startup plans to commercialize two other products later in 2013, the QuantaWell 100 and the Quanta NP, and will seek $2 million to $3 million for another round of financing, CEO William Gjust says.

Plasmonix’ develops support tools to detect cells in medical research and clinical diagnostics by enhancing luminescent and fluorescent signals using metal nanoparticles. QuantArray, its latest product, has various applications in performing assays, a test that analyzes components, and enhances luminescent signals hundred-fold over conventional methods. The technology can be be applied not only in the life sciences, but also apparel, paint and cosmetics.