Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BIO Podcast with VaBIO Director Mark Herzog

Podcast with Mark Herzog, Executive Director of Virginia Biotechnology Association

BIOtech-Now recently spoke with Mark Herzog of VaBIO, check out the podcast here. Additionally, Herzog shared the latest on biotech in Virginia in the Q&A below.

The Virginia Biotechnology Association (VaBIO) is the premier statewide non-profit organization that promotes the scientific and economic impact of the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 300 biotechnology, equipment, pharmaceutical and medical device companies are based in Virginia, mainly clustered around universities in Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, Norfolk and Northern Virginia. VaBIO will be co-hosting the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, DC on June 27-30.

What areas of bioscience are currently most active within your state?

Herzog: The greatest concentration of companies, approximately 34%, is located in Northern Virginia. The greater Richmond region is second with 30%, the Charlottesville area with 15%, Western Virginia with 14% and the balance located in Hampton Roads. Based upon surveys conducted of Virginia’s biotech companies, 47% are focused on therapeutic products and 14% on diagnostics. The focus of the remaining companies is divided among areas of concentration such as biodefense, bioinformatics and agricultural biosciences.

Are there currently any state-level legislative barriers to economic development you are working to overcome?

Herzog: Access to capital and wet-lab space for commercialization activities. Thanks to bipartisan support from our new Governor Bob McDonnell, the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans, Virginia took bold steps in 2010, despite a massive budget deficit. The Governor will be signing new legislation that will exclude from capital gains taxes all income from investments in biotech and device firms in Virginia. We also were successful in winning $3 million to incentivize the development of commercial wet-lab space. Funding was also made available to increase the Angel Investor tax credit and recapitalize the “Gap Fund” that invests taxpayer dollars in technology companies. The total bioscience package is nearly $30 million for the biennium.

Is there another state or specific initiative that you look to as a model for your efforts?

Herzog: North Carolina has been a great role model. They built a broad consensus before attacking the issues and that paid off for them. We in Virginia have been trying to follow that approach—start with the foundation of bipartisan legislative support, build on small successes and then use the momentum to go after the big initiatives.

How is your organization engaging in social media to educate and engage audiences?

Herzog: Yes, we have always been able to connect with our CEOs but seemed to miss the opportunity to connect with individuals at all levels in our industry. Social media has provided a great tool to connect with everyone from the bench to the C-Level Suite.

When is your annual meeting? Anything new or exciting you’d like to promote?

Herzog: We will be holding our 6th annual joint conference with Maryland at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Bio Conference, October 27-29 at the North Bethesda Marriott. We are very excited to be working on the final details to have the opening activities on campus at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It will be a fantastic new offering to our attendees.

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