Gov. Martin O'Malley made a quick swing through Rockville on Monday morning, touring Novavax, a biotechnology company that recently landed a federal contract to develop an influenza vaccine.
The three-year contract, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is valued at up to $170 million. It charges Novavax with advanced clinical and manufacturing development of seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines.
"We're making a difference locally with our economy here and attracting scientists and scholars," said Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, who toured the facility along with O'Malley (D), U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).
With investment of private and public funds the Interstate 270 technology corridor has the potential to outpace other well-known science hubs, such as the Research Triangle of Raleigh-Durham, NC, Forehand said.
"It's not a race to the top [for regional recognition]," she said. "But it's a race to the top for research, development and having these products ready for the public to use when they're needed."
The stop was part of a tour of Montgomery County that celebrated the state's "innovation economy" and that also included a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bioscience Education Center at Montgomery College's Germantown campus.