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

Updated 7/26/22

The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) continues to grow rapidly with new startups and a greater number of clinical and commercial stage companies. The region aims to be in the top three biohealth clusters in the country by 2023. Whether it’s Kite Pharma‘s new facility in Frederick County, MD, companies like ATCC scoring contracts for critical vaccines, or recent moves to the area by companies like Synexa Life Sciences, it’s evident that the BHCR is thriving.

But the continued growth of the BHCR will depend on new life science companies and entrepreneurs planting roots in the region. These startups need support in order to thrive—support they can get from incubators.

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

The BHCR network of incubators, bioparks, and innovation centers offers affordable wet lab space with flexible lease terms. These spaces also offer access to mentors and key business commercialization resources (i.e. IP, regulatory, and reimbursement expertise) necessary to launch discoveries from bench to market.

The network truly is regional, with incubators everywhere from Baltimore to Hagerstown, Montgomery County to Northern Virginia. Most recently, Children’s Hospital partnered with JLABS to open a new innovation center at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus in Washington, DC.

Many other local resources also offer 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 launchpad 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). The GIC 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.

Successful tenants include stem cell company Seraxis, which is working towards a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Another successful tenant, Neuraly, recently announced completion of enrollment for a Phase 2 trial for its Parkinson’s Disease therapy.

Applicant Requirements/Details: Applications accepted on a rolling basis with a wait list

Contact: (301) 528-4001

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. Since then, FITCI’s ecosystem has added $84 million to the local economy, and its startups have raised over $160 million in funding. Between 2004 and 2019, FITCI was responsible for 27 of the 80 biotech companies in Frederick County. In 2018, FITCI opened ROOT, an innovation space located in the heart of Downtown Frederick.

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

Notable FITCI alumni include Frederick’s RoosterBio, Inc., BioFactura, Inc., and Theradaptive, Inc.

Applicant Requirements/Details: Start an application here

Contact: Kathie Brady, President and CEO, at [email protected]

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 nearly 2 million SF of lab and office space and 12 buildings when fully completed. Managed by the UMB Health Science Research Park Corporation (RPC), the BioPark was designed to become the center of a community of early-stage and high-growth life science companies.

The GRID (Graduate Research Innovation District) was launched in 2019 as an innovation space designed for startups and entrepreneurial ventures. Backed by a partnership between the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures (CMAV) and the University of Maryland Graduate School, the GRID supports both students and entrepreneurs through education, early-stage funding, and workshop programming.

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 [email protected]

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.

In FY2021, FastForward helped the creation of 18 startups and its portfolio of companies raised $768 in venture funding. Notable FastForward startups include Gemstone, Pathovax, Avidea Technologies, and Renalert, among others.     

FastForward has a suite of services for their startups to help them 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.

Applicant Requirements/Details: You can start an application here

Note: FastForward applicants DO NOT have to be affiliated with JHU

Contact: Brain Stansky, Senior Director, at [email protected]

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, the Northern Virginia BioScience Center, opened next door in 2022. This new facility is built for incubator tenants to graduate into a 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.

Contact: Tom Flynn, Deputy Director, Prince William County, VA Department of Economic Development, at [email protected]

For More Biohealth Capital Region Incubators, check out this list:

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