Biotech center seeking overseas link

July 18, 1992|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

The Maryland Bioprocessing Center, a facility aimed at helping biotechnology start-up companies, might be getting an unexpected boost.

The center's board of directors is considering an agreement with an overseas company that would help build and operate the center, which is to be on the Bayview campus of the Johns Hopkins University, according to Lewis J. Shuster, acting chief executive of the center.

In addition, the overseas company, which Mr. Shuster declined to identify, would provide "many millions in cash" to help fund the venture, he said.

The General Assembly allocated $13 million last year for construction of the center, contingent on the board's raising $3 million privately to complete the project.

The overseas company not only would provide funding, Mr. Shuster said, but also technical expertise, which would speed completion of the center. The BioCenter, as it is commonly called, is expected to be completed in late 1994.

The bulk of the cost of the BioCenter is not in construction but in purchasing the sophisticated equipment and technical expertise needed to run it. In addition, Mr. Shuster said, the cost includes meeting federal requirements that the building be sterilized and that thousands of pages be written describing the laboratory procedures that will be used.

The board has advertised for bids from other groups that might offer the same expertise as the overseas company, but Mr. Shuster said it was unlikely that one would be found within the United States.

The center will be used by small biotechnology concerns, particularly drug companies, that have devised products that need to be produced in quantities large enough to go through clinical tests.

Several companies could rent space in the center at the same time, typically for several months.

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