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  • Mass. Biotech Bill Signed
Jun 2008
BOSTON, June 17, 2008 -- A $1 billion, 10-year plan to boost Massachusetts' position in the life sciences was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, joined by Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi, Tuesday at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

The unveiling of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Law was the result of a year-long collaboration between the governor, the legislature, academia, life sciences industry leaders and patient advocacy groups. The signing comes just before Gov. Patrick, key legislators and industry leaders attend the  the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2008 International Biotechnology Convention, being held June 17-20 in San Diego. It was during BIO 2007 that the governor announced the $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative. (See also Mass. Tags $1B for Biotech).

“With this initiative we take our rightful place as a global leader in the life sciences,” said Gov. Patrick. “There is no place in the world with as great a concentration of life sciences talent, resources and vision as Massachusetts. With these resources ... we are on our way to helping find new cures for diseases, creating new jobs and positioning ourselves for long-term economic growth.”

The law will enhance the state’s strengths in the fields of medicine and science and fill gaps in federal funding to ensure the state’s ability to support life sciences innovations from idea to product, the governer's office said in a statment.

The package includes $500 million in capital funding to be spent over 10 years; $299.5 million for targeted infrastructure projects and the balance -- $200 million -- in unrestricted funds for investment in public infrastructure projects, at the discretion of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) which the bill establishes.

It provides for $25 million each year for 10 years for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund, held at the MLSC, for loans, grants, fellowships and investments to stimulate increased research and development in the life sciences sector, and $25 million each year for 10 years in tax incentives to be awarded to certified life sciences projects.

The law also creates the MLSC Life Sciences Investment Program to expand employment in the life sciences sector in MA and to promote health-related innovations by supporting research and development, manufacturing and commercialization in life sciences; creates five Regional Technology and Innovation Centers, to be identified from among existing life science regional centers; and adds an 18-member advisory board, to be appointed by the governor, including 10 members of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Collaborative, five chancellors of the University of Massuchsetts system, and three patient advocates. The Secretary of Labor & Workforce Development and five directors of Regional Technology Innovation Centers will be nonvoting members.

Four additional funds to be administered by the MLSC will also be created: the Dr. Craig C. Mello Small Business Equity Investment Fund; Judah Folkman Higher Education Grant Fund for grants to graduate school students; MA Small Business Matching Grant Fund; and the MA Life Sciences Education Fund for vocational and technical school equipment purchases.

“The Life Science Initiative creates a climate which will attract and retain successful biotech companies to commit expansion plans within Massachusetts,” said Geoff MacKay, President and CEO of Organogenesis Inc., a tissue generation company with headquarters in Switzerland and in Canton, Mass. “Organogenesis is implementing a major expansion to 250,000 square feet and 600 high-tech jobs, and the governor’s Life Science Initiative is the driving factor guiding our selection of Massachusetts over competing options. The Life Science Initiative has given Organogenesis Inc. the business confidence to grow in Massachusetts and expand our R&D labs, manufacturing facility and global head office.”

Heidi Daniels, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund New England, said, “This significant investment in research will help Massachusetts continue to be a leader in the research world, help Massachusetts retain the brightest minds in science to focus on solving problems, and most importantly, help all its residents move closer to cures for chronic diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, that affect so many of our loved ones."

The law also strengthens the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which has been charged with executing much of the life sciences initiative by focusing its attention on science and economic development, strategic investments nd collaboration with the private sector to create innovation infrastructure critical to both researchers and companies, the governor's office said. The center, which has just named its new CEO and president, Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, will allocate the $25 million per year dedicated to the MLSC Fund. It will also be empowered to direct approximately $200 million of the $500 million in capital funds.

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