Gov. Deval Patrick has introduced a bill proposing a major investment in and expansion of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts.
“We want Massachusetts to provide the global platform for bringing innovation from the drawing board to the market, from inspiration to commercialization, and from ideas to cure,” Gov. Patrick said Thursday at a special joint session of the legislature.
The governor’s office said the plan is part of a 10-year, $1 billion investment package designed to enhance the commonwealth’s assets in medicine and science and to fill gaps in federal funding to strengthen its capacity to support life science progress through the production and commercialization stages.
The legislation, which was outlined during a speech at the BIO 2007 convention in May, includes $500 million in capital funds for the creation and construction of a Massachusetts stem cell bank and an RNAi center that will highlight and build on the work of Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The bank will be the world’s largest repository of new stem cell lines available to public and private life sciences sectors.
Mello and colleague Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, of Stanford University, were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. RNAi is a biological process through which double-stranded RNA inhibits gene expression in a highly specific fashion. Since its discovery in 1998, RNA interference has emerged as a powerful gene-silencing technique to determine which genes are important in various diseases and conditions. RNAi also has promise as the basis of gene-silencing therapies.
The bill also includes $15 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund to finance basic research, small business innovation grants, life science fellowships and work-force training. The fund would be overseen by a Life Sciences Center board, which, under the legislation, would be expanded to include two new members and would be chaired by the secretary of Housing and Economic Development. Under Gov. Patrick’s legislation, the center would have the authority to build capital projects, award grants and expend funds consistent with the plan outlined by the governor. The board will be required to establish a formal process to determine how capital projects are spent.
The legislation also establishes a 10-person advisory committee to the Life Sciences Center board from members of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Collaborative.
To encourage job creation and growth in the field, the legislation also creates tax incentives for certified life science sector projects. Among the credits are a 10-percent, 10-year life sciences investment incentive tax credit and a provision that allows projects to receive an additional 2 percent tax credit if they locate in certain "economic opportunity" areas. The legislation includes a provision to ensure that companies meet their job creation goals, creates a sales tax pass-through for purchases associated with the development of life sciences projects and creates a refundable FDA user-fee credit. The bill also imposes a yearly project evaluation and provides for decertification in the event that a company fails to achieve the projected return on investment mandated as part of the project certification.
“This is the future of life sciences here in Massachusetts,” said Gov. Patrick. “We have the talent, we have the entrepreneurial spirit. Now let’s execute the vision."
For more information, visit: http://www.mass.gov