Maryland has been a hub for the life sciences for years, but the industry’s leaders are hoping to grow its presence in the state even further.
That’s why Maryland Life Sciences, part of the Maryland Tech Council, launched its new “It’s Better Here!” campaign in hopes of continuing to attract not only businesses but investors and employees to the region.
The campaign paints Maryland as an ideal place for entrepreneurs to start their businesses, for international companies to open North American offices and for domestic companies to relocate.
“It’s intended to communicate to the rest of the world … the fact that we have 70 national labs, the fact that we have amazing industry clusters,” said Maryland Tech Council CEO Martin Rosendale. “There’s an overall goal here to showcase the BioCapital for what it is and those areas which I believe that we are truly No. 1 in the country, possibly in the world.”
Maryland Life Sciences plans to emphasize the region’s benefits by highlighting the stories of Maryland’s most successful life sciences and biotechnology companies. The organization is especially focused on profiling smaller and mid-sized companies rather than those that already enjoy international renown, such as AstraZeneca, a company with laboratory facilities in Gaithersburg working on a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The campaign’s inaugural newsletter featured Zalgen, a company that produces diagnostic and preventive medical technologies, including a range of COVID-19 testing products. Zalgen has had operations in Montgomery County since 2013, and, in the newsletter, its co-founder and managing director Luis Branco lauded Maryland for “its pool of incredible human talent, shoulder-to-shoulder physical and intellectual resources, and the vibrant economy.”
The campaign has been in the works since before the pandemic. Although the coronavirus slowed the campaign’s rollout, it also bolstered the stories of companies like Zalgen that have been working to provide tests and vaccines for coronavirus over the past nine months. Maryland has been a cornerstone for COVID-19 research, with billions of dollars of federal funds supporting the development of vaccines in Maryland.
Each newsletter will highlight a Maryland company, university or organization; organizations are encouraged to reach out if they want their story featured. “It’s Better Here!” also plans to provide deeper explanations of four major sectors within the life sciences industry — vaccine development, immunotherapy, cell and gene therapy and biomanufacturing.
In addition to attracting new companies, Maryland Life Sciences hopes these stories will also appeal to investors.
“No investor wants to lose their money,” Rosendale said. “So, investors love success stories. They love to know that there’s talent here, they love to know that there’s CEOs and leadership teams here that can drive businesses, that can make things happen.”
Stories of a vibrant life sciences community will also attract workers who want to know that there will be a wealth of opportunities for their spouses if they move into the region — and for themselves if they don’t end up staying at the company that brought them to the area.
Maryland Life Sciences plans to spread these stories through social media and the news media, with a custom-illustrated map that displays some of the state’s important research institutions. The organization also hopes the companies spotlighted in the newsletter will spread the word about the campaign among their networks.
Success will be measured, in part, by how many people read the stories Maryland Life Sciences publishes. But getting clicks isn’t the campaign’s central goal.
“Ultimately, (success) is measured in, how much direct interest do we get?” Rosendale said. “How many companies approach us and say, ‘you know, I am interested in looking at Maryland and the BioCapital to relocate?”’
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