When Marylanders think of the state's Eastern Shore, a few things come to mind: fun-filled beach vacations, sprawling farm land, and precious blue crabs. That's why the announcement of a new wet lab in the Eastern Shore Innovation Center at the Dorchester Regional Technology Park may come as a surprise for aspiring startups looking for affordable space and resources in the state.
Innovation Center manager, Steve Dolbow, said he was approached by SunX Analytical chemist Barry Pritchard with the idea of a wet lab co-op space within the center.
"Barry came to me after hearing about the space the Innovation Center had and pitched the idea to have a lab that could support the startup process," said Dolbow. "We worked together to find the funds and, along with Barry's contribution, we were able to build out the wet lab that is already drawing interest both in and out of state."
Wet labs are commonly used for chemical analysis of well water and residential lead contamination, as well as agriceutical product development, chemical and biological quality assurance, and life science research and product development. SunX Analytical, the operator of the new wet lab space, is working on new product technology to extract oil from agricultural hemp.
"I saw the Innovation Center as an opportunity to pursue my interests and assist other entrepreneurs who needed similar space," said Pritchard. "This is truly a 'build it and they will come' scenario. The money the wet lab generates through leases will go directly back into funding its resources."
The Innovation Center was launched in 2016 through collaboration with the Dorchester County Economic Development, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). Since that date, the center has already reached 90 percent capacity and added over 40 jobs in the first year, according to Dolbow.
"The center has proven itself to be an effective economic engine in the community with a million dollar economic impact," said Dolbow. "The wet lab further allows us to put businesses on the shore on equal footing with those in the rest of the state."
Ultimately, the Innovation Center expects the demand for its facilities to increase to the point that new infrastructure is needed, growing the scale and scope of the Dorchester Regional Technology Park.
For more information about the Eastern Shore Innovation Center visit choosedorchester.org.