Fulton Bank Discusses New Life Science Division at MTC Event
The Maryland Tech Council (MTC)’s Business Continuity Task Force (BCTF) welcomed Fulton Bank’s Bret Schreiber to their Executive Insight Series on March 9 to give insight into the current market trends in the BioHealth Capital Region, and how Fulton Bank has helped life science and technology companies in the last few years.
MTC formed the BCTF during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to “help Maryland technology, life science, and B2B companies—emerging and established ventures alike—as they navigated this period of economic uncertainty,” wrote Jeremy Fischman, MTC’s communications manager, in an email.
The Executive Insight Series is offered to both BCTF and MTC members each month, and features a speaker “who can provide expert insight into important and pressing topics that enhance attendees’ understanding of subject areas that are relevant to today’s executives or explain new topics and technologies that would not otherwise cross their radar screens.”
Bret Schreiber has worked with Fulton Bank since 2019, when the company brought him on to launch a Life Sciences and Technology Division, of which he is now the Vice President. Prior to working at Fulton, he had no banking experience, but had worked with life science and technology companies in several capacities at the Maryland Department of Commerce, the Maryland Independent College University Association, and Johns Hopkins University.
The goal of Fulton Bank’s Life Sciences and Technology Division is to give a new avenue for start-up companies in the industry to gain capital, since they have largely been pushed out of typical revenue streams.
“There was a hole that was existing and that was the genesis of the life sciences and technology division here at Fulton Bank, to see if we could fill that hole,” Schreiber said.
Most traditional banks ensure companies can reach certain markers before they agree to extend them a line of credit. Some of these markers can include a sellable product and regular revenue stream. But because so many of these companies are starting without a product and are years away from FDA approval, they can’t prove to a bank that they are worth taking a gamble on.
So after speaking with hundreds of companies, Schreiber and the team at Fulton Bank created a new credit policy specifically for life science and technology companies. The new policy examines other markers that show a company could be on the rise, such as patents, Small Business Innovation Research grants, investments from TEDCO, equity from institutions like Johns Hopkins, or grants from the state of Maryland.
Due to his decades of experience in the industry, Schreiber understands that these metrics mean a company is well on their way to making something big, but they would likely be turned away by more traditional banks. When working with companies, he also works with a traditional banker at Fulton Bank to ensure the companies are getting all the resources they can.
“What is our unique value proposition? To deploy capital at an early stage, be hassle-free, and be sensitive to the price points of early-stage companies,” Schreiber explained. “We really wanted to provide access to a greater network to allow companies to scale up. For many intents and purposes, we wanted to be the default bank for start-ups.”
Fulton Bank has also partnered with the Abel Foundation and Blue Highway Capital to offer venture capital to clients in Baltimore. Venture capital is one of the most common ways that life science and technology companies fund their efforts, and Fulton wants to make it more widely available in Baltimore.
“We’re a little like Silicon Valley Bank, except SVB comes in at a Series A, B, or C,” Schreiber says. “We’re coming in at pre-seed ideation and pre-revenue. which is very unique in this space.”
During the Q&A portion of the session, moderator and CEO of MTC Marty Rosendale asked Schreiber why Fulton Bank is more willing to take on risk than some of the more traditional banks in the area. Schreiber explained that the high caliber of companies and talent in the area makes it easy to take bets, and that the large, successful companies outweigh the companies that will ultimately fail. Since launching the division, Fulton has taken on 120 life science and technology companies.
Not only does Schreiber see the division as filling a hole left by other banks, he also sees it as filling a gap for companies between acquiring grants and loans from local and state governments and getting their businesses off the ground.
“A lot of these companies want to rely on the public sector, but one of the things that the state’s been missing is a strong private sector partner to help grow and support the economic development of the state,” he commented. “And it’s really those private sector partners that are going to drive this.”
To contact Bret Schreiber at Fulton Bank, email [email protected]. To contact MTC, email Jeremy Fischman at [email protected].