Frederick has become a key player in biomedical research. That was the clear message from the third annual Technology Showcase, hosted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL).
As usual, the event highlighted the numerous technologies developed by NCI and FNL scientists that are available to external groups for licensing and partnership. But this year, it also showcased the strength of the region.
In his keynote address, Rich Bendis, CEO of BioHealth Innovation, explained that Frederick is now home to 90 life sciences companies, and he cited the many federal resources—including NCI, FNL, and Fort Detrick—as drivers behind Frederick’s success. He briefly discussed two local biotech companies that had spun out of NCI inventions, leaving the audience to wonder whether any of the technologies presented today would follow a similar course.
Nine NCI and FNL scientists then presented their inventions and laboratory capabilities, and a poster session showcased 10 more technologies. All were available for licensing and partnership. The diverse inventions included a vaccine adjuvant, antibodies for use in diagnostics and cancer therapies, proteins derived from insect cells, renal carcinoma biomarkers, and nanoparticle platforms.
Following the first set of technology presentations, a panel of experts explained how partnering with NCI and FNL can help companies.
“There are numerous opportunities for collaboration beyond licensing and tech transfer,” said panelist Vladimir Popov, Ph.D., director of the FNL Partnership Development Office. “Our investigators can work collaboratively with companies to investigate new avenues in cancer research and develop new and improve existing technologies.”
In addition to FNL and NCI, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, the City of Frederick Department of Economic Development, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation co-sponsored the event, which drew more than 200 professionals from Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania to the Advanced Technology Research Facility. At least one attendee made the trek from Philadelphia.
“The Technology Showcase brings together a wide range of companies, entrepreneurs, investors, and regional economic development groups,” said NCI Technology Transfer Director Tom Stackhouse, Ph.D., who served as a panelist. “It is a unique event that supports our goal of creating engaged partnerships that benefit research, innovation, and public health.”
During his welcoming remarks, Leonard Freedman, Ph.D., FNL’s chief science officer, announced, “We want this event to be a resource to biotech professionals throughout the region.”
It was a lofty goal, but the showcase appeared to meet this mark: During the closing minutes of the panel on attracting equity investors, an audience member asked panelist Phil Jung of the Maryland Venture Fund how biotech entrepreneurs can find a good team.
“Events like this,” he said.