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biotechnology : Development News

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Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland to build research and science center in East Baltimore

The state's two major research institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park , are partnering to build a research and science center in East Baltimore opening September 2014. The state is spending $27 million and Hopkins is contributing $3 million toward the $30 million public/private venture whose goal is to make Maryland’s universities and private industry more competitive in the sciences.

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will consist of multiple buildings on land leased from Hopkins on its 350-acre Bayview Medical campus, at 4940 Eastern Ave. Expected to break ground in November, the center will be set off from other buildings and have its own separate entrance. The universities will finish site design this month and then bid the project to vendors. 
While the facility is unique in Maryland, other states, notably Massachusetts and New York, have launched similar data centers. Hopkins' vice provost of research Scott Zeger says the facility will allow the two universities to compete in scientific fields. Last year, faculty and administrators at Johns Hopkins and UMCP formed a scientific governing group to oversee the facility. 
“We are building a world-class facility,” he says, that will spur public/private partnerships in scientific research and hopefully create spinoff companies. 

The High Performance Research Computing Facility will be used for fields whose solutions require “extreme computation,” says Zeger. These include big data, cybersecurity, language processing, genomics and molecular chemistry.
The center will consist of a small administrative building for the four to five people who will operate the facility and smaller buildings to hold the computing and storage equipment. The center will initially consist of one building to hold equipment but there is room on the site for up to five such structures. 
Zeger says the construction of subsequent buildings depends on state funding, federal grants and partnerships with other universities in the region and private industry. The facility's operating cost is put at $3 million to $5 million per year, and Zeger expects partnerships and other funding to defray the cost.
According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, money for the project has been designated in the capital budgets for FY 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Source: Scott Zeger, Johns Hopkins University
Writer: Barbara Pash


Maryland Biotech Development Center Awarding $200K in Grants

The Maryland Biotechnology Development Center is accepting applications at their website for grant awards of up to $200,000 through Feb. 15th. These awards are available in two categories, biotechnology commercialization and translational research.

Biotechnology commercialization is focused on supporting projects that are in late-stage development and are poised to enter the market and begin generating revenue within three years. The translational research category is designed to help start ups that are bridging the gap between research institutions and private companies in Maryland, with the goal of taking promising research down a commercial path.

This is the third year for these awards, which have provided nearly $3.1 million in funding to 13 life sciences companies and three university research projects in Maryland.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Maryland Biotechnology Development Center

Martek expanding headquarters, renovating lab space

Columbia life sciences company Martek Corp. is expanding its headquarters and renovating its laboratory space as it continues to grow.

The company is taking an additional 22,000 square feet at 6480 Dobbin Rd., where it employs 220 of its 585 employees worldwide. That will give it a total of 88,000 square feet at the Columbia Business Center. The company did not disclose financial terms of the lease.

Martek makes nutritional oils derived from algae that are used in baby formula, dietary supplements and food products, such as yogurt, olive oil and juice.
The company recently acquired Connecticut health and wellness company Amerifit Brands Inc. But Martek spokeswoman Cassandra France-Kelly says the new office space will accommodate recent hires. The company has hired nearly 60 employees in the past 12 months with plans to add five more in the areas of research and technology.

It is also renovating its 23,000-square-foot lab at its headquarters to support new biofuel programs. Last year, Martek struck an agreement with BP PLC to produce biodiesels made from sugar. The renovation will allow it to identify new products for the pharmaceutical and food industry.

France-Kelly says the company stayed in its space because Columbia is a convenient location. Sandwiched in between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Columbia can attract employees from both locations, she says. Known for its public schools, Columbia is a good community to sell to prospective employees, she says. The spot is also accessible to the airport and train station.

"The community has been our home for a long time," France-Kelly says. "We've continued to enjoy being here."

Source: Cassandra France-Kelly, Martek
Writer: Julekha Dash

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