Backers of manufacturing assistance for biotech companies seek state aid

November 03, 1990|By Timothy J. Mullaney

A leader of an effort to build a metropolitan Baltimore manufacturing facility that small biotechnology start-up companies would use to develop new products said backers hope to win state support for the project during the next session of the General Assembly.

Jared Cohon, vice provost for research at the Johns Hopkins University, told a seminar on biotechnology at Hopkins Bayview Research Campus yesterday that Maryland is among the leaders in the number of biotechnology companies but ranks lower in sales by biotech companies in the state.

Part of the reason is that it can cost up to $10 million for a plant that can manufacture enough of a new medicine to put the drug through clinical trials, he said.

Biotech entrepreneurs have trouble getting the money to build such plants, and there are only a few places in the country where biotech entrepreneurs can rent the space and facilities they need, Mr. Cohon said.

Mr. Cohon's proposed solution is to build a state-backed facility where Maryland biotech companies could rent much of the equipment they need for the small-scale manufacturing needed to shepherd a drug through clinical trials, he said.

He declined to say how much state support such a facility would need but said it was likely to top $10 million.

Mr. Cohon said backers of the development center hope to put together a more detailed financial proposal before seeking the formal backing of Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

But he said a meeting with the governor won't be set up until after the governor faces re-election next week.

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