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Biotech awards focus on health care innovation

A state program that supports commercialization of biotechnology research is shifting its focus, and will now favor projects that can help improve health care quality while reducing costs.

Applicants to the Biotechnology Development Awards program should now consider how their project can meet those two criteria.

The Biotechnology Development Awards program is an initiative of the BioMaryland Center, which is an office within Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development.

The awards program has been in place for the past several years. But for fiscal 2015, the BioMaryland Center partnered with the state health department and the Center for Medical Technology Policy (a Baltimore-based nonprofit) in deciding to give preference to projects that can improve patient outcomes and reduce health care costs.

Those two goals are cornerstones of health care reform in Maryland and across the country.

In this state, major payment reforms are underway for hospitals. Incentives are being put in place that reward hospitals for increasing the value, rather than the volume, of health care services. So, medical professionals are now focusing on “population health.”

“This is creating an urgent need and compelling business case for the development of new health care technologies and services with the potential to improve patient outcomes while reducing overall health care spending,” according to the BioMaryland Center’s website.

The Biotechnology Development Awards program has $1 million in available funding for fiscal 2015. Awards will be between $50,000 and $200,000. The grants are available to life sciences companies that have products in the pipeline toward commercialization.

The deadline for this funding round is Oct. 1.