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Virginia Omnibus Bioscience Bill Awaits Governor's Action

April 01, 2009

Virginia lawmakers passed a bill last month supporting the state's bioscience industry and providing incentives to investors for bioscience and advanced technology commercialization. The legislation comprised all of the top recommendations from the 2008 Joint Legislative Subcommittee on the Biosciences.

The bill changes the existing Commonwealth Technology Research Fund to the Commonwealth Research Fund to better focus on key areas of R&D, emphasize the importance of commercialization of R&D through matching funds programs, and to provide a loan program for the construction of facilities used in commercializing research. The Innovative Technology Authority would continue to administer the fund and establish and maintain specific guidelines for awarding funds.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Establishes the Bioscience Investment Tax Credit, limiting the existing qualified equity and subordinated debt investment tax credit, known as the Angel Investor Tax Credit, to bioscience and other advanced technology startups, and reserves up to 50 percent of the available credit for tech-transfer spin-outs from universities;
  • Makes changes to Virginia's Technology Research Fund to authorize new programs such as matching grants for National Institutes of Health-funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. Eligible applicants must employ less than 12 full-time employees and submit a commercialization plan; and,
  • Provides funding for research facilities by establishing a construction loan program for institutions of higher education and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth for facilities used in commercializing qualified research, such as wet laboratories in research parks or university campuses.

Advocates of the bill included key national, state and local organizations supporting tech-based economic development. The Virginia Biotechnology Association both led the effort to establish the subcommittee and campaigned for the legislation along with the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

Language inserted into the bill prohibits funding to organizations and businesses that perform research on stem cells obtained from human embryos. The General Assembly will reconvene on April 8 to consider Gov. Kaine's amendments and vetoes.

SB 1338 is available at: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?091+ful+SB1338ER.