As a follow-up to the Inova-driven Center for Personalized Health initiative I wrote about yesterday…
The final 2017-2018 budget approved by the General Assembly includes $28 million to help get Inova’s proposed biotech research initiative get off the ground. According to a Senate Finance Committee document, state goodies include $8 million in General Fund monies and $20 million in bond proceeds for the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research institute “to support a public-private partnership with six Virginia research institutes and Inova.”
- Funding is dedicated for incentive packages for high-performing researchers and laboratory renovations.
- Funds require a $3 to $1 match from outside fund sources for receipt of any funding and partnerships with institutions of higher education.
Bacon’s bottom line: There are a couple of interesting things here. First, the McAuliffe administration is making good on its promise to support the biotech initiative to which Inova has pledged the purchase of the former Exxon-Mobil headquarters complex near Tysons Corner as well as $100 million for venture capital.
Second point: Traditionally, Virginia has offered incentives to recruit corporate investment such as manufacturing, call centers and corporate offices and headquarters. This is the first time of which I am aware in which the Commonwealth has dipped into the General Fund for funds to support the recruitment of star faculty. The money reflects a recognition that we need new tools to address the relative dearth of big-name scientists who bring in big research grants that lies behind Virginia’s modest R&D prowess.
If Virginia wants to be a player in the genomics/personalized health space, we’ll have to recruit big-league players from outside the state, and that probably means supplementing private dollars and university dollars with public dollars.
This could be either a brilliant move or a slippery slope to hell, depending on your perspective. The idea of spending tax dollars to make rich scientists even richer may not appeal to everyone. Regardless, it is a big step for Virginia.
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