CEBO project helping minority companiesA year and a half...


September 29, 1992|By Liz Bowie

CEBO project helping minority companies

A year and a half ago, the Council for Economic and Business Opportunity (CEBO) established a project to help minority businesses get involved in a business initiative to make the life sciences the new engine for the region's economy.

In partnership with University of Maryland Medical Systems, CEBO went looking for medical supplies, high-tech equipment, even paper clips or furniture -- any service or product a local minority-owned business might supply the hospital at competitive prices.

The idea was to include minority-owned businesses in the life sciences industry, said Michael Gaines, CEBO executive director.

"We are not looking to put people out of business, but to get a piece of the pie," he said.

CEBO's first success came recently when Information Control Systems Corp., a 18-year-old Baltimore computer and information services company, snagged a $750,000 contract. It will manage some of the hospital's records, including medical slides, X-rays and paper documents. The company will create the equivalent of a library cataloging system that allows the hospital to retrieve records.

"It is not a significant contract for us, but it gives us an opportunity to interact with a business we hadn't before," said Garland O. Williamson, the company's president and chief executive. While the contract may not be large in terms of money, he hopes the contact will lead to other opportunities with the University of Maryland and a chance to create new jobs at his company.

"Historically, it has been difficult for minority firms to get access to purchasing departments in these hospitals," Mr. Gaines said. So when CEBO began to think about ways that minorities could be included in the region's quest to make life sciences an economic base, they turned to the hospitals to help.

"The University of Maryland has been tremendously supportive in making this happen," Mr. Gaines said. "They now realize that they have to open up and do business with everyone."

Mr. Gaines said CEBO and its partners in the project -- Johnson & Johnson, the state Department of Economic and Employment Development and UMMS -- hope to be able to announce the formation of a new minority company soon. And CEBO hopes to begin working with other hospitals in the area, such as the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Biotech firm launched in Gaithersburg

Human Genome Sciences, a new biotechnology company in Gaithersburg, is up 1and running, funded by the New Jersey venture capital firm of Healthcare Investment Corp. and stocked full of intellectual capital from the National Institutes of Health. Its newest hire is Lewis Shuster, the former chief executive at Microbiological Associates Inc. in Rockville.

Mr. Shuster will be the executive vice president for operations and chief financial officer for Human Genome Sciences. The company will commercialize the research of the Institute for Genomic Research, a non-profit institute headed by Dr. Craig Venter, one of NIH's gene sequencing gurus. There is no chief executive yet, but Mr. Shuster expects an announcement to be made soon.

Mr. Shuster said he expects to continue his work with the Bioprocessing Center, although he will not be able to donate the day and a half a week he was giving. The center will be built in the next two years in Baltimore to help local start-up companies get their products to market.

Rockville firm gets NIH grant for research

The National Institutes of Health has given a Rockville company $50,000 to further develop a new way of treating prostate cancer by freezing the tumors.

Cryomedical Sciences Inc.'s treatment uses probes that a surgeon guides into a cancer tumor using ultrasound. The tumor is frozen to a lethal minus 300 degrees F in about 15 minutes and then absorbed by the body over time.

The device is now being used in two medical centers, including the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, with some success and has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The grant is the largest the NIH awards through its Small Business Innovation Research program. The company can apply for another $500,000 after it completes the first phase of the program.

Arthritis Foundation donates $680,000

The national and state chapter of the Arthritis Foundation is donating $680,000 to medical researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

Eleven local researchers in all will receive money. The largest grant, of $490,000, came from contributions made from residents across the state and will be used to pay for research into the inflammatory process in the body that causes arthritis and other diseases such as lupus. The money represents about half of the state chapter's budget.

About 37 million people in the United States suffer from arthritis.

Company helps with bay cleanup

Helping clean up Tampa Bay can be profitable. Coastal Environmental Services Inc., an environmental consulting firm with offices in Linthicum and Princeton, N.J., is opening a third office in St. Petersburg, Fla., to handle the work on the cleanup. The company has grown from three employees to 45 since 1987.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.