Biotechnology interests focus of Advocacy Day

Local biotech firms and associated institutions will seek to influence state legislators at the New

Local biotech firms and associated institutions will seek to influence state legislators at the New York Biotechnology Association Advocacy Day scheduled for Feb. 12.

“We invite biotechnology executives from across the state to join us for this important event and look forward to productive discussions that will help accelerate the growth of New York state’s biotechnology industry,” New York Biotechnology Association Executive Director Nathan Tinker said.

According to NYBA, employment in the biotechnology sector has grown in New York state by 53 percent since 1998. The industry employs more than 58,000 people at an average annual wage of $63,000 for total annual wages of $3.75 billion.

Tinker said the Biotechnology Association’s agenda will include asking the Legislature to double the refundable state tax credit for qualified emerging businesses which invest $1 million or more in capital spending in New York state from $250,000 to $500,000.

“Because it’s a refundable credit even if you had absolutely no revenue you’d get a check back from the state,” he explained.

Robert Rotundo, a member of NYBA and the founder of protein-based anti-inflammatory drug discovery company Lectocarb Pharmaceuticals, said he would like to see New York state set up its own fund for “proof of concept” grants for biotechnology firms.

“The proof of concept money, there just isn’t much available and that would really help us out. I’m trying to get going here, trying to prove our technology. Once we do that it will be a lot easier to bring in [venture capital],” Rotundo said. “The only way to do that now is with federal [proof of concepts] grants and those are very competitive.”

Lectocarb Pharmaceuticals is located within the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Incubator Program.

Biotech firm Cytopia, developer of cancer drugs, is located in the incubator at University at Albany’s East Campus in East Greenbush. Cytopia Vice President for Business Development Shreefal Mehta said he is uncertain whether he will attend the biotechnology advocacy day. He said if he does he will push the state to fund biotechnology-specific business incubators.

“There are lots of different things that could be done by the state. There needs to be support for better infrastructure,” Mehta said.

Tinker said another area NYBA is very concerned with is Empire State Stem Cell Board created by Gov. Eliot Spitzer in July.

“We’re pushing to make sure that keeps being funded. The first distributions from that board for research and development went out in January for about $14.5 million. We want to keep the pressure on and make sure that continues to be fully funded,” he said.

NYBA Advocacy Day will feature a breakfast meeting and a reception at the University Club in Albany following meetings at the Capitol.

Categories: Business

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