Virginia Makes Gains: Lawmakers Pass Biotech-Friendly Budget

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly recently passed several budget measures that could advance the development efforts of innovative technology companies across the state. 

The Virginia Biotechnology Association, an affiliate of BIO, lauded the passage of these legislative moves despite the current tight budgetary climate and called them the most productive for the bioscience industry in the last decade. VABIO was heavily involved in outreach efforts supporting the budget measures. 

The first of the three budgetary actions will allow the state to launch the Virginia Refundable R&D Tax Credit. This new tax incentive, sponsored by Del. Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) and Sen. Mark Herring (D-Leesburg), provides a 15 percent refundable credit for qualified research and 20 percent for any research conducted in partnership with a Virginia university. 

“Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Speaker of the House Bill Howell and a bipartisan team of leaders from both chambers of the General Assembly deserve our sincere thanks for passing new job-creating programs such as the R&D Tax Credit,” said Thomas Thorpe, chairman of VABIO and president of Afton Scientific, a Charlottesville bioscience company. “Investments in high-growth, high-wage 21st-century industries are key to Virginia’s future as a reliable destination for innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers.” 

The two other parts of the new budget that have earned praise from VABIO are Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) matching grants and the state’s Center for Innovative Technology “Gap” Fund. 

By approving $2 million for  SBIR matching grants, Virginia for the first time will match funding for winners of Phase I SBIR Awards from the National Institutes of Health. The new state budget also includes $4 million in additional funding for the CIT Gap Fund, which makes seed-stage equity investments in Virginia technology and life sciences companies. 

“We are grateful to House and Senate budget leaders who made certain that innovative technology programs such as SBIR matching grants and the CIT Gap Fund were a priority even in this tough economic climate,” said Mark A. Herzog, executive director of VABIO. “We want young Virginians to be able to work in competitive, high-wage careers right here in the Commonwealth. These new measures are examples of common-sense, technology-based economic development policies that will keep Virginia competitive in the race for the future.”