Six things to consider when choosing a location for your bio business

07/25/2018| Maryland Team

Six things to consider when choosing a location for your bio business

07/25/2018 | Maryland Team

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Driven by breakthrough research and innovation, biohealth and life science are high-risk, high-expense fields. The right location is critical to your success, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay Boston’s and San Francisco’s high rents for lab and office space. Maryland, a booming bio hub itself, is not only cost-efficient, but offers many advantages you may not find elsewhere. Before narrowing your shortlist for your new biotech business or expansion of existing biotech business, consider these six factors that contribute to Maryland’s innovation ecosystem.

Federal Connections

Having close ties to federal labs means access to experts in all disciplines of biomedical research, including the 27 institutes of the National Institutes of Health, where groundbreaking discoveries occur in fields ranging from infectious disease and cancer to biomedical engineering. With the NIH, FDA, and a total of 74 federal research labs, Maryland companies and scientists are continuously tapped for contracts with these labs. It’s no surprise that Maryland consistently ranks first in federal obligations for research and development. Innovators in Maryland also leverage their professional network, including individuals from agencies that offer Small Business Technology Transfer and Small Business Innovation Research grants, to generate seed capital for their ventures. In 2017, Maryland ranked third per capita and fourth overall in SBIR awards.


Lab space is affordable in Maryland. According to JLL’s 2018 Life Sciences Outlook, the average asking rent of life science tenants in suburban Maryland was $24.35 per square foot, compared to $47.39 per square foot in San Francisco and $49.61 in Boston. Maryland’s cost of living is reasonable, too. Here, you’ll find the highest median household income in the nation and a cost of living index that is just 65 percent of San Francisco-San Jose and 78 percent of Boston.


According to the JLL report, over the last year, Maryland life sciences companies and private-equity firms have helped spur more than $418 million in VC funding, including VielaBio, which raised $250 million in Series A funding, and Sirnaomics, which recently secured $25 million in Series C funding. Since last year, venture capital funding grew by over $360 million, or over 700 percent, while NIH funding grew by over $170 million, or over 30 percent.


A biohealth hub starts with a smart and dedicated workforce. Maryland’s STEM-rich workforce is powered by graduates from powerhouses like Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and UMBC, as well as qualified biotechnicians coming out of vocational training at Baltimore Bioworks. In Maryland, you’ll find the nation’s highest concentration of employed doctoral scientists and engineers and the second highest concentration of computer scientists and research scientists. The local workforce continuously drives innovation in industry subsectors, including personalized medicine, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices.


There's unparalleled energy behind ensuring Maryland companies have what they need to take science out of the lab and into medical practice. Initiatives like the Life Science Advisory Board foster the collaboration of the state, academic community, private sector, and federal partners to ensure the biohealth ecosystem continues to grow and thrive. Funding programs like the Department of Commerce’s BioHealth Investment Incentive Tax Credit and TEDCO’s Life Science Investment Fund support this mission to grow and support local bio companies.

Culture and Geography

Maybe it’s the incredible diversity, safety and security, or access to the rest of the U.S. and world through great transportation infrastructure. Maybe it’s the supportive culture of connectivity of the industry. Whatever it is, you’re going to like having your business here. You know who else will like it? Your employees.

Federal connections, affordability, a smart workforce, momentum, and culture and geography all culminate in Maryland to create an innovation ecosystem that provides incredible value to companies. From big companies looking to acquire or establish partnerships, to small companies looking to bring their products to market or expand their customer base, Maryland is all-in to help bio companies succeed. 

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