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Montgomery County, the University System of Maryland and Montgomery College have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create the “Montgomery/Maryland Life Sciences Education and Innovation Partnership” to facilitate collaboration among industry and the academic partners on cutting-edge research, and allow students from across Maryland opportunities to gain work experience and conduct translational research with Montgomery County’s industry leaders. It is envisioned that the Montgomery/Maryland Life Sciences Education and Innovation Partnership will guide the future of post-pandemic education leveraging existing assets to create an economic development powerhouse for Maryland in life and regulatory sciences.
The kickoff meeting and MOU signing ceremony was held at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) in Rockville, and attended by the presidents of the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Bowie State University along with the heads of research from the University of Maryland and UMBC; industry leaders from AstraZeneca, IBM, S3, American Gene Technologies, Quality Biological; current Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, former Montgomery County Executive and USM Regent Ike Leggett, current members of the Montgomery County Council and other academic, government and industry leaders.
“Montgomery County’s bio and life sciences industry have been critical to every person on our planet over the last year as they helped research, produce, and manufacture the vaccines that have been the most effective weapon against the COVID-19 virus,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The last 15 months have demonstrated that these companies and their employees are vital to our global security, and we must continue to invest in their success. As a County, it is imperative that we grow and provide this industry workers with the skills and talent they need to succeed. I am very appreciative of all the hard work and collaboration that has occurred to create this MOU between the County, the University System of Maryland, and Montgomery College that will be a gamechanger for our students and our bio and life sciences partners.”
Montgomery County, the University System of Maryland and Montgomery College consistently have been leaders in the evolution of the life and regulatory sciences sectors regionally, nationally, and internationally. The global COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced this role, and the County’s emergence as the Immunology Center of the World has increased our collective responsibility to meet the needs of our nation. Furthermore, students, teachers, and academic institutions will have dramatic new opportunities and challenges to address moving forward due to the impacts of the pandemic.
“The leadership of the University System of Maryland (USM) is pleased to partner with Montgomery County and Montgomery College in this important effort—and the timing and importance of this effort cannot be underestimated,” said USM Regent and former Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “For its part, the USM brings together world-class education and cutting-edge research capabilities, and the Universities at Shady Grove already has an established and vital presence in Montgomery County. I see great things ahead for our region because of this important new collaboration.”
“An innovative workforce must have the skills, knowledge, and abilities in demand by County and State industries,“ said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Sanjay Rai. “Montgomery College has placed hundreds of workers in biotech companies and launched many more to advanced degrees in the life sciences by collaborating with industry and our higher education partners at USG. Together, we deliver work-ready students at all levels. We provide a continuum from middle school to [post-baccalaureate] and [postdoctoral] professional development, vital in this dynamic environment. Our competitive advantage to innovate will stem from our inclusive talent development programs.”
Montgomery County is home to the leading life and regulatory sciences industry cluster in the nation with the combination of its private sector industry base, its federal research and regulatory presence, and its access to the National Capital Region with the world’s largest concentration of advocacy, regulatory, biomedical research, and science/health organizations.
Talent recruitment and retention have been, and will continue to be, a prime locational factor for life sciences companies. Montgomery County is home to Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove, a regional higher education center of USM with academic programs from nine partner universities. Both institutions have recently opened state-of-the-art bioscience education facilities and have made significant investments in biotechnology and other life sciences programs, which is helping to provide an outstanding and diverse talent development and creation pipeline. A focus will be ensuring a critical, but currently missing, link is addressed: connecting talent with industry to meet current and ongoing demand. To achieve this, industry must be engaged to enhance career awareness and inform development of curriculum and programmatic offerings that will stimulate supply.
“There’s no reason Montgomery County can’t—and shouldn’t—be the nation’s undisputed center for life and regulatory sciences,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “It has a thriving community of industry leaders; a strategic location near federal labs and agencies; and the full partnership of Montgomery College and the University System whose expertise in biotechnology and advanced computing is second-to-none. This MOU gives us a framework for bringing all these assets together and leveraging our individual strengths for collective benefit. It’s about more than providing growth opportunities for our students and our employers, though that’s important; it’s about advancing an R&D agenda for a country still in the grips of a pandemic, and pioneering solutions that will prepare us for crises to come.”
Key Commitments of MOU:
- Partners will share best practices and resources for training and education to employers in Montgomery County and throughout the region.
- Partners will collaborate to enhance career path awareness and inform development if curriculum and programmatic offering to support industry’s workforce needs.
- Partners will establish physical presence of world-class, postgraduate research programming that will focus on future aspects, needs, and opportunities fueled by the life sciences industry to ensure that Maryland and the County remain a premier location for biotech industry advancement.
- The proposed center of excellence will provide the opportunity for co-location, collaboration, and synergy among industry, academia, federal, and nonprofit research organizations within Montgomery County.
- Montgomery/Maryland Life Sciences Education and Innovation Partners will work with Montgomery County Public Schools to enhance STEM programs and further expand the pipeline of local talent.
- Partners will ensure the location of any new facilities or innovation related infrastructure complements current assets in the County or the State, thereby leveraging and enhancing Maryland strategic advantage.
Montgomery County, the University System of Maryland and Montgomery College agree to form a working committee of education, government, and private industry leaders to define this partnership and the location(s) that will house these programs of the future. The committee’s initial action plan will be provided by October 2021.
- Marc Elrich – county executive, Montgomery County
- Tom Hucker – president, Montgomery County Council
- Craig Rice – member, Montgomery County Council; chair, Montgomery County Council Education and Culture Committee
University System of Maryland
- Isiah Leggett – former executive, Montgomery County; member, Board of Regents, University System of Maryland and member, Board of Advisors, Universities of Shady Grove
- Jay A. Perman, MD – chancellor, University System of Maryland
- Darryll J. Pines, PhD – president, University of Maryland, College Park
- Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS – president, University of Maryland, Baltimore
- Freeman A. Hrabowski, III PhD – president University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- Aminta Breaux, PhD – president, Bowie State University
- Shirley Brandman, Esq. – chair, Board of Advisors, Universities at Shady Grove
- Anne Khademian, PhD – executive director, Universities at Shady Grove
- Michael Knapp, chair, Board of Trustees Montgomery College
- Sanjay Rai, PhD – senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Montgomery College
- Steven Cain, PhD – chief of staff/chief strategy officer, Montgomery College
- Ronald T. Piervincenzi, PhD – CEO, US Pharmacopeia
- Angela Graham, president and CEO, Quality Biological, Inc.
- Kevin Beverly – former CEO, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
- Joseph Sanchez, PhD – director, R&D Science Engagement and STEM Programs, Astra Zeneca
- John Joaquin – client leader and managing executive, IBM
- Jeff Galvin – CEO and founder American Gene Technologies