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Frederick BIO Roundtable Showcases State and County Strengths

The Frederick County BIO Roundtable highlighted the strengths of the county’s biotech ecosystems and the powerful support available from the Maryland Department of Commerce.

Located in the northern part of Maryland along the I-270 Technology Corridor, Frederick County is home to more than  80 bioscience companies. With proximity to Fort Detrick, home to the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the county boasts a powerful environment of life sciences intellectual prowess.

With the knowledge of the micro-ecosystem within Frederick County, Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) hosted their BIO Roundtable event this month to offer “focused support to the growing biotech community.” The event, which took place at the Frederick Business Park, included a panel discussion that highlighted available resources from the Maryland Department of Commerce.

Ulyana Desiderio, Director of the Life Science Office at Commerce, said she was grateful for the opportunity to interact with the biotech leaders in Frederick County. Not only was she able to share information on state-supported resources, Desiderio said she had the opportunity to learn about the “exciting things” happening in and around Frederick.

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“My colleague Tamar Osterman (Senior Business Development Representative for Frederick and Carroll Counties) and I appreciated the chance to review the various ways the Maryland Department of Commerce is supporting business formation and growth in partnership with our ecosystem partners,” Desiderio said.

Solash Aviles , Senior Business Development Manager with Frederick County’s Office of Economic Development, said the county hosted the event to bring biotech leaders together and connect them with other key industry partners within the county and state.

“We wanted to bring resources and information about what is available to the biotech leaders,” Aviles said, noting that those assets provided through the Department of Commerce were prioritized.

This wasn’t the first time that FCOED hosted such a gathering, nor will it be the last. She said the genesis for the BIO roundtable was in previous meetings held with the manufacturing sector in Frederick. Aviles said the leadership in that space found the discussions helpful and decided to extend the idea to the biotech sector. They reached out to area leadership to gauge interest and then put the roundtable together.

“We listened to the industry to try and find resources that would benefit them and come up with solutions to any problems they may be facing,” Aviles said.

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The BIO Roundtable was sponsored by Frederick-based Clym Environmental Services, which is known for its focus on biological waste, as well as VaLogic, a bioservice provider that specializes in GMP storage, facility monitoring and lab services. In fact, the event was held in VaLogic’s new 75,000 square-foot life sciences facility that is now home to infectious disease-focused Zalgen Labs, which will soon be joined by other new neighbors.

Jeff Wells, senior consultant and head of corporate development at VaLogic, expressed his love for Frederick County and its biotech ecosystem. He said there is significant value in the local ecosystem, which prompted VaLogic’s acquisition and repurposing of an empty building in Frederick to build a life sciences hub. When the county was looking for a place to hold the roundtable, Wells said they wanted to offer the use of their facility, as well as give the available space some additional exposure among the local thought leaders.

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“It was a great meeting. There was a good message about the availability of capital that can help grow business,” Wells said. He added that the roundtable was a great opportunity for Frederick County biotech companies to come together and learn what the state, county and city of Frederick are doing to support and expand the existing ecosystem.

The roundtable was so well received that there are already calls for another event. Aviles said Frederick County will host another BIO Roundtable in the fall. As the meetings become more regular, she said the plan is for the roundtables to become highly focused, which will allow for multiple, smaller sessions that could provide greater benefit to companies.