Spotlight on Industry - Biotechnology

In our last blog, we covered the Frederick economy in a very general sense - including job growth and important industry sectors. Beginning this week, we will take a closer look at each of those important industry sectors.

We begin with bioscience. Over the last 10 years, bioscience and life science have become economic development buzz words. And why not - everyone wants their community or region to be innovative and high-tech, moving toward that knowledge-based economy (another buzz word) of the future.

In Frederick, bio is not simply a buzz word - it's a growing cornerstone of our economy. Maryland is home to the 2nd largest biosciences cluster in the country and within the state, Frederick ranks #2 in total biotech companies.

Since 2002, Frederick's bioscience industry has more than doubled -from 30 companies to more than 70 companies. As we saw in last week's look at job growth, the Professional, Scientific and Technical industry sector has led the way for job creation in the Frederick region - growing 60% from 2003-2007, and in 2010 this industry sector grew 4% or 278 net new jobs. Impressive when many other industries were flat or declined.

Frederick's bioscience industry has its first roots from Fort Detrick. Companies moved to Frederick as a result of contracts with the federal government - Dynport Vaccine Company, Charles River Labs, SAIC-Frederick, Southern Research Institute, Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and others.

Frederick also has a strong private-sector bioscience base. MedImmune, Life Technologies, Qiagen and Lonza are all global life science companies with a strong and growing presence in the City of Frederick and surrounding area.

Entrepreneurship is also an important component of Frederick's bioscience industry. Small, innovative start-up companies with their own technologies, or technologies that have been developed in federal labs and are being commercialized through technology transfer agreements, have proven incredibly effective at advancing research, developing products and creating new jobs here in Frederick.

Frederick Innovative Technology Center (FITCI) - a technology incubator in Frederick - is an important element of entrepreneurship and job creation. FITCI, through partnerships with the City of Frederick, Frederick County and the State of Maryland and many corporate sponsors, offers affordable office and lab space, business mentoring and other programs to bioscience and advanced technology companies, to help budding entrepreneurs build successful businesses.

We continue to see great opportunity in the life sciences industry for Frederick. NCI/SAIC-Frederick is building a 330,000 SF advanced technologies research facility at Riverside Research Park. Planned for completion in late 2012, this initiative will facilitate public-private research partnerships with the intent of expediting the drug development process for cancer and HIV research and accelerating the timeline from discovery to patient bedside. Coupled with the entrepreneurship at FITCI and technology transfer opportunities at Fort Detrick, the life sciences industry is certainly a growth sector for the City of Frederick.