Incubator “Cheat Sheet” for Life Science Entrepreneurs in the BioHealth Capital Region

May 21, 2019

The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) continues to grow rapidly with new startups and a greater number of clinical and commercial stage companies. The region expects to add approximately 2,000 life science-related jobs in the near term with more on the way. Whether it’s Kite Pharma building a new manufacturing site in Frederick County, MD, the growth of cell and gene therapy companies such as Autolus, Inc., REGENEXBIO, and RoosterBIO, Inc. or recent acquisitions of companies like Paragon BioServices, Inc., it’s evident that the BHCR is thriving.

The recent ISPE MAST Showcase and the BioHealth Capital Region Forum added to the growing excitement, as panelist after panelist expressed optimism about future growth.

While there have certainly been many major headlines this spring, a major factor in the continued growth of the BHCR will be the support of life science entrepreneurs and startup companies seeking to become the next success story.

There are several Incubators across the region that have proven to be a fantastic option for biohealth startup companies. These incubators are providing the right mix of services, amenities and mentorship programs that help young companies navigate a complex process, find their way and succeed.

The BHCR network of incubators, bioparks and innovation centers offers affordable wet lab space with flexible lease terms, access to mentors, and to the key business commercialization resources (i.e. IP, regulatory and reimbursement expertise) necessary to launch the translation of discoveries from the bench to market.  The network truly is regional–from Baltimore to Hagerstown, Montgomery County to Northern Virginia. Most recently, Children’s Hospital announced a partnership with JLABS to develop a new innovation center in Washington, DC

Many other local resources are expanding with new programs to meet the needs of a growing pool of entrepreneurs entering the incubator spaces. As Judy Costello, Managing Director for BioHealth Innovation (BHI) shared, “BHI’s monthly Entrepreneur-in-Residence Feedback sessions, non-dilutive funding application assistance, annual fall investor partnering conference and other activities are available to early-stage companies in any of the region’s incubators.”

There are upwards of 30+ incubators in the region that support a variety of niche industries, but a few of them stand out as top choices for biotech entrepreneurs.  BioBuzz has compiled a “cheat sheet” to help life sciences entrepreneurs understand the top incubator options and find the right launch pad for their new venture..

Here are five of the top incubator options for Biohealth startups in the BioHealth Capital Region.

Germantown Innovation Center

20271 Goldenrod Lane, 2nd Floor, Germantown, Maryland

Backed by Montgomery County, the Germantown Innovation Center (GIC) is conveniently located near I-270 on the Pinkney Innovation Campus of Montgomery College (PIC-MC) , offers wet lab space and access to Montgomery College’s mock cGMP training facilities and student workforce. The innovation center is managed by the County with programmatic support by Launch Workplaces.

Lab space currently is full at the GIC with houses 25 tenants, including Neuralstem and Seraxis, both of which were recently named by BioBuzz as BHCR stem cell companies to watch. Other tenants include Neuraly who raised $36M and Arcellix who raised $26M in recent funding rounds.

Germantown Innovation Center (GIC) located at the Pinkney Innovation Complex on Montgomery College's campus

Applicant Requirements/Details: Applications accepted on a rolling basis with a wait list
Contact: Karen Kalantzis, Launch Workplaces at kkalantsis@launchworkplaces.com

Frederick Innovative Technology Center (FITCI)

118 N. Market Street (ROOT) and 4539 Metropolitan Court (Corporate Offices), Frederick, Maryland

The Frederick Innovative Technology Center, or FITCI, opened in 2004 and recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. Across those 15 years, 27 of the 80 biotechs located in Frederick County made their start in the incubator and 45 FITCI clients have received a total of 2.8 million in TEDCO funding. ROOT is FITCI’s newest innovation space and is located in the heart of downtown Frederick City.

FITCI offers CEO coaching, including a CEO Roundtable, partnerships with Frederick County, Frederick City and Hood College, as well as guidance around preparing and pitching for early-stage funding opportunities.

Recent notable FITCI alumni include Frederick’s RoosterBio, Inc., BioFactura, Inc. who just raised $6M in funding, and Theradaptive, Inc.

Frederick Innovative Technology Center (FITCI) Incubator Specs and Services

Applicant Requirements/Details: start an application here
Contact: Kathie Brady, President and CEO, at kathie@fitci.org

The GRID at the University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark

Adjacent to UMB Campus/875 Hollins St., Baltimore, Maryland

This 12-acre UMB Biopark is located on the west side of the UMB campus in downtown Baltimore. The BioPark will boast 1.8 million SF of lab and office space and 12 buildings when fully completed. The BioPark, which is managed by the UMB Health Science Research Park Corporation (RPC), was designed to become the center of a science community comprised of early-stage and high-growth life science companies. The BioPark provides a number of centralized resources that can accelerate life science businesses.

Its latest venture, The GRID (Graduate Research Innovation District) is UMB’s newest innovation space designed for startups and entrepreneurial ventures. The GRID is backed by a partnership between the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures (CMAV) and the University of Maryland Graduate School and will support entrepreneurs through education, early-stage funding and workshop programming.

The GRID at the University of Maryland Baltimore BioPark, Incubator information

For a full list of BioPark services and amenities, click here.

Applicant Requirements/Details: Contact The GRID for more details Contact: Jenny Owens, Faculty Executive Director, at grid@umaryland.edu

FastForward (1812 & R House)

Multiple Baltimore, Maryland Locations

Johns Hopkins’ Technology Ventures FastForward incubator program has strategic hubs across Baltimore. The program is designed to provide healthcare, drug development, manufacturing and IT startups with a coordinated suite of resources that can propel growth and get them to market. The program currently supports approximately 100 startup ventures.

In FY2018, FastForward helped the creation of eight startups and saw more than $451 million in follow-on funding raised by 31 startups. Notable FastForward startups include Gemstone, Pathovax, Avidea Technologies and Renalert, among others.      

FastForward has a suite of services for their startups to help them to focus on their business and gain the knowledge and guidance they need to succeed. Services range from mentoring, access to students and researchers, and an onsite stock-room managed by Thermo Fisher.

JHU Tech Ventures' FastForward Incubator information. Two locations: 1812 and R House.

Applicant Requirements/Details: You can start an application here
Note: FastForward applicants DO NOT have to be affiliated with JHU
Contact: Mark VanderZyl, Senior Operations Manager, at mark.vanderzyl@jhu.edu

Prince William Science Accelerator

9385 Discovery Boulevard, Manassas VA 20110

Established in 2014, The Prince William Science Accelerator is located within the Prince William County Science and Technology hub at Innovation Park in Manassas, Virginia. The Innovation Park is anchored by George Mason University’s Prince William campus and is focused on life science and biotech innovation.

Small and growing life science and biotech companies benefit from operating in the heart of a vibrant life science cluster that includes research centers, corporate headquarters, data centers, government agencies and federal contractors. The Prince William Science Accelerator offers the only fully built-out, commercially available wet labs in Northern Virginia.

A new 30,000 SF Research & Wet Lab facility is now under construction and expected to open in 2021. This new facility is being built for tenants to graduate into larger, more commercial-scale space while remaining part of the Innovation Park ecosystem.

Recent success stories include ISOThrive, LLC, Virongy, LLC and Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

Prince William Science Accelerator at the Virginia Innovation Park, incubator information

Contact: Tom Flynn, Director of Business Development and Investment, Prince William County, VA Department of Economic Development, at tflynn@pwcgov.org

For More Biohealth Capital Region Incubators, Check out this List:

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Steven Surdez

Steven Surdez

Principal at StoryCore at StoryCore
Steve has over 20 years experience in copywriting, developing brand messaging and creating marketing strategies across a wide range of industries, including the biopharmaceutical, senior living, commercial real estate, IT and renewable energy sectors, among others. He is currently the Principal/Owner of StoryCore, a Frederick, Maryland-based content creation and execution consultancy focused on telling the unique stories of Maryland organizations.

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