SAIC cancer work supports other biotechs
Move in 2012 expected to consolidate, streamline operations
SAIC-Frederick's work as prime contractor for the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick is paying dividends for other businesses, from Frederick to San Francisco.
And that boost to the local economy is likely to grow after the cancer institute's move to larger quarters next year, officials say.
The 2,009-employee subsidiary of Science Applications International Corp. of McLean, Va., is part of the institute's Advanced Technology Partnerships Initiative, which seeks to create partnerships and collaborations with many research and development organizations, particularly small bioscience companies.
The initiative, launched in 2008, focuses on advancing nanotechnologies, including treatments that are being advanced into clinical trials, said company spokesman Frank Blanchard. Most of the work done through the initiative is under collaborative research and development agreements.
SAIC-Frederick made total purchase orders of $48.9 million from large and small vendors across Maryland in 2009, including $10.2 million in Frederick County, according to a company statement. From 2001 to 2008, those statewide orders totaled $422.3 million.
SAIC-Frederick received about $350 million in federal stimulus money, which funded 15 projects and retained 20 jobs while creating 117. The funding also helped subcontractors retain 244 jobs and create 161.
The initiative's goal is to advance drugs and treatments more efficiently, along with the supporting technology, according to Blanchard.
Partners have included MedImmune of both Gaithersburg and Frederick and Integrated BioTherapeutics of Gaithersburg, along with Fluidigm of San Francisco, which helped decode the entire genome of the Epstein-Barr virus, which can lead to some cancers, according to SAIC.
SAIC-Frederick also has collaborated with others to develop a hand-held device to test for HIV.
Such efforts offer "great opportunities to open their doors to collaborative research," said Renée M. Winsky, CEO of the Tech Council of Maryland.
SAIC-Frederick has "tremendous infrastructure," Winsky said, which will continue to help local biotechs after the company and the institute move into their new facility at the Riverside Research Park in Frederick in the summer of 2012.
"Their new facilities will be tremendously helpful to the biotech community," she said.
SAIC-Frederick also works closely with the Fort Detrick Business Development Office.
"Out of all the federal contractors, SAIC has really embraced what we do and our mission," said Christine Demas, the office's director.
"We work very closely with them," said Demas, whose office helps local businesses work with Fort Detrick. "There is great interest because of NCI and Riverside."
The expected move of into the new, 332,000-square-foot Advanced Technology Research facility at Riverside next year will help the institute and SAIC-Frederick consolidate operations, Blanchard said. The $200 million project is being developed by the Matan Cos. of Frederick.
"Just bringing people together you'll get efficiency out of that," he said, and the move also will improve traffic flow to and from the institute's new campus.
Even after the move from Fort Detrick, Demas she said expects her work with the institute and SAIC-Frederick to continue uninterrupted.
"I really believe they see the benefit of working with us and being able to open doors," she said.
The new Riverside space also will have some equipment upgrades and provide more opportunities for face-to-face collaborations, according to Blanchard.
"Instead of doing a collaboration on paper and by email, people will be able to take up space right next to labs and our people and their people work together on projects," he said.