If the Greater Baltimore Committee's vision of a regional economy based on the life sciences is to fly, the financial community must do much of the lifting, according to the chief executive officer at Nova Pharmaceutical Corp., Dr. Hans Mueller.
Specifically, capital must be made available for high-tech enterprises important to the initiative's success, Dr. Mueller said last night, addressing the 2nd Annual GBC High Tech Dinner. The affair at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, which drew about 400 people, marked the beginning of three weeks of life sciences-related symposiums and conferences that the GBC is sponsoring.
"Despite our many financial assets, access to capital remains a most critical issue for high-tech firms in the region," Dr. Mueller said.
"High-risk, early-stage capital needed to bring university-based
research to commercial reality is scarce and difficult to raise," he said. "We will need to involve the financial community in this process -- the venture capitalists, the regional investment bankers, the local banks and, among others, investors with a stomach for high-tech investments."
Dr. Mueller said that the state has worked to provide funding for new high-tech enterprises, and he noted that "the private business and investment community must respond to the government's leads."
Dr. Mueller is familiar with the trials and tribulations of funding a life sciences business. Nova is a 9-year-old city firm that has consistently funneled profits back into research and development. The company's objective is to develop a line of pharmaceutical products.
The GBC, an economic development organization whose members include executives of the city's largest businesses, announced its vision in May of an economy anchored on the life sciences. The term encompasses hospitals and biotechnology companies, as well as businesses and institutions that develop pharmaceuticals and conduct disease-related research. The GBC said Baltimore would have to:
* develop into a learning center, with life sciences serving as a potential focal point for education and training.
* attract more medical and scientific associations to the region.
* develop a more entrepreneurial business climate.
"We've come a long way, but much more needs to be done," Dr. Mueller said last night. "The GBC's life science vision needs to be translated into specific action steps to achieve results."