HD6 - Executive Summary of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Biosciences and Biotechnology in the Commonwealth (HJR 248, 2008)

    Executive Summary:
    The Joint Subcommittee Studying Biosciences and Biotechnology in the Commonwealth completed four meetings during the 2008 interim and produced three legislative recommendations for the 2009 Session of the General Assembly.

    From the beginning, the joint subcommittee focused on reviewing the significant body of work produced by Governor Warner's Commission on Biotechnology. In its deliberations the joint subcommittee heard presentations from Patrick Kelly, Vice President for State and Government Relations at the National Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); The Honorable Michael Schewel, former Secretary of Commerce and Trade and co-chair of the Governor's Commission on Biotechnology; Robert Skunda, President & CEO, Virginia Biotechnology Research Park; Aneesh Chopra, Secretary of Technology; and James Cooper, Chairman of the Board, Theranostics Health.

    The presentations made to the subcommittee focused on several recurring themes and recommendations contained in the Commission's interim and final reports. The obvious need for additional wet-lab space and prioritizing financial resources on commercializing research became the clear focus of the joint subcommittee. By the third meeting staff presented the following three legislative recommendations based on discussions and input from joint subcommittee members:

    1. A bill that would require the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to promote biosciences research and industry in the Commonwealth in order to better compete with similar efforts in neighboring states.

    2. A bill changing the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund (CTRF) to the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF). The CRCF establishes three new categories of awards: (i) a matching fund program to small Virginia-based technology companies that secure a federal Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) award; (ii) a matching fund to universities to leverage federal and private dollars for the commercialization of qualified research; and (iii) a loan program that would provide loans to universities and political subdivisions that seek to provide lease guarantees or letters of credit for the construction of facilities utilized in commercializing qualified research. The details of each of these programs will be developed by the Innovative Technology Authority (Authority) in conjunction with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia.

    3. A bill redefining "qualified business" for purposes of investments eligible for the subordinated debt and equity tax credit. The bill also allocates half of the available credits for investments in qualified businesses that were created to commercialize technology-related research developed at or in partnership with an institution of higher education.

    In addition to producing the final legislative recommendations, the joint subcommittee had the opportunity to visit the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and attend the Mid-Atlantic Bio Conference in Chantilly, Virginia. The Joint Subcommittee intends to submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor for publication as a House Document. All materials and presentations from the HJR 248 study are available on the joint subcommittee's website, located at http://dls.state.va.us/biotech.htm.

    HJR 248 Membership

    General Assembly Members:

    Delegate Mark D. Sickles, Chair
    Senator Janet D. Howell, Vice Chair
    Delegate Harry R. Purkey
    Delegate Kathy J. Byron
    Delegate John M. O'Bannon
    Delegate Margaret G. Vanderhye
    Senator Ryan T. McDougle
    Senator Mark R. Herring

    Citizen Members:

    Mr. Peter Jobse
    Mr. Mark A. Herzog
    Dr. Erik Hewlett, M.D.
    Mr. Robert T. Skunda

    Ex Officio Members:

    The Honorable Aneesh Chopra

    Lisa Wallmeyer, Staff Attorney, Division of Legislative Services
    Patrick Cushing, Staff Attorney, Division of Legislative Services
    Barbara Teague, Committee Operations, Virginia House of Delegates