As the country emerges from the pandemic, advancements in the biotech industry are creating a need for more workers. To meet this demand, Montgomery College, Montgomery County, and the University System of Maryland signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating the Montgomery/Maryland Life Sciences Education and Innovation Partnership. The partnership will facilitate collaboration among industry and academic partners on cutting-edge research. It will also afford opportunities for students from across Maryland to work and conduct translational research with Montgomery County’s industry leaders.
The partners anticipate this MOU will guide post-pandemic education by leveraging existing assets to create an economic development powerhouse for Maryland in life and regulatory sciences.
Montgomery County is home to one of the most thriving life and regulatory sciences clusters in the nation with the combination of its private sector industry base, its federal research and government presence, and its proximity to the nation’s capital.
The county had the foresight to start planning for the recovery from the pandemic so we are poised to move forward with big, bold new programs.
Recruiting and retaining talent are critical for life sciences companies in the county. These companies rely heavily on students from Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove, with academic programs from nine partner universities across the state. Both institutions recently opened state-of-the-art bioscience education facilities, making significant investments in biotechnology and other life sciences programs. The talent pipeline is seemingly endless, but the missing link needs to be 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.
“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 Montgomery 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. This MOU between the county, the University System of Maryland (USM), and Montgomery College will be a game changer.”
Dr. Sanjay Rai, Montgomery College’s senior vice president for academic affairs emphasized that existing partnerships and pathways have benefitted students and the workforce: “Our academic and workforce programs already collaborate with industry and academic partners. Economic development chases talent—and we develop talent.”
“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. “This MOU gives us a framework for leveraging our individual strengths for collective benefit. It’s about more than providing growth opportunities for our students and our employers. 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.”
“The leadership of the University System of Maryland 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 former Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, who is a USM regent.
“The county had the foresight to start planning for the recovery from the pandemic so we are poised to move forward with big, bold new programs,” said Douglas M. Firstenberg, who chaired County Executive Marc Elrich’s Economic Advisory Group. “This partnership represents the forward thinking of the county, these great universities, and Montgomery College to propel growth in the life sciences.”