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Baltimore BioPark opens second building

‘We are just thrilled,’ says university vice president for R&D

by Steve Berberich | Staff writer
The Gazette

City, state and federal officials more firmly staked Baltimore’s claim in Maryland’s burgeoning bioscience industry Monday.

Some 400 people weathered a chilly, misty morning at the dedication of the second building of the BioPark at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the groundbreaking for a third.

With its first BioPark building 60 percent filled, the university is poised to usher new businesses into building 2, according to a sequential business plan that calls for a total of 10 buildings, said David J. Ramsey, university president. Paragon Bioservices Inc., expanding from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Research Campus, and the new Institute for Genome Services are among the new tenants for building 2.

Ramsay said the first three buildings are adding about 1,000 jobs to the city’s employment rolls.

The university began planning the BioPark five years ago on a residential and commercial tract just west of the main campus, with a price tag of $500 million and a final build-out of 1.2 million square feet of laboratory and offices space. By several accounts Monday, the project is exceeding expectations.
‘‘With the first building, we weren’t sure we were going to have as many hardcore biotechs as we got. Experiences around the country showed that bioparks get more bioservice companies, so we are just thrilled,” said James Hughes, vice president for research and development.

He said Baltimore was not previously well-known for biotech and ‘‘this area of the city did not have the best reputation. So it was a bit of a leap of faith.”

Edward Rudnic, CEO of Germantown’s MiddleBrook Pharmaceuticals and a member of the BioPark board, said the project’s rapid progress is a credit to the vision of the university’s leaders.

‘‘I wanted to do something in Baltimore and they asked me to be on the board about a year ago,” said Rudnic, who is also chairman of the Tech Council of Maryland. ‘‘I can give them biotech input from a business perspective and will probably never be a tenant.”
Harold E. Chappelear, a fellow board member and a retired University of Maryland professor in its School of Pharmacy, said the project has ‘‘gone far beyond our expectations.”

Other BioPark tenants include SNBL Clinical Pharmacology Center, Alba Therapeutics, FASgen, Irazu BioDiscovery, Acidophil and Gliknic Therapies.

The project represents ‘‘how Maryland, now with a $3 billion bioscience industry, is still growing,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) of Baltimore.

He commended the university for crossing the bustling Martin Luther King Boulevard, which previously separated the large downtown University of Maryland campus from what it considered ‘‘one of Baltimore’s more troubled neighborhoods, with a per capita income of $16,000 per annum and a crime rate well above the city’s average,” according to University of Maryland literature.

The university has formed partnerships with neighborhood leaders and infused $60,000 annually into the community improvement fund.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Dist. 7) of Baltimore, referring to new bioscience education programs tying a neighborhood high school, Baltimore Community College, to the BioPark, said, ‘‘It’s not enough to build buildings. We’ve got to build people.”
About 200 community college students each year will receive associate’s degrees or certificates in biosciences as a result of the partnership.