Planting Roots at the Innovation Center
Barry Pritchard opened SunX Analytical – the Eastern Shore’s first independent wet lab for chemical analysis and product development – at Dorchester’s Innovation Center in July 2017. In just two years, he’s expanded the company’s footprint and manufacturing to test, extract and purify essential oils from agricultural hemp.
An independent industrial hemp processing and analytical testing laboratory, SunX also provides technical resources and infrastructure to support other farmers and companies who are part of Maryland’s nascent – but growing – industrial hemp industry.
First Wet Lab Expands
Based at the Eastern Shore Innovation Center, SunX originally built out a 1,100-square foot commercial wet laboratory thanks to a $77,500 grant from the Rural Maryland Council. One of the early start-up businesses leasing space at the ESIC, Barry credits the county’s role in helping SunX grow.
According to Dorchester Economic Development Director Susan Banks, the wet lab fosters a spirit of innovation among our tenants and improves their technical capabilities so new ideas can be developed and commercialized locally.
Hemp Opens New Lines of Agriceuticals
“With the adoption the Farm Bill, there are about 1,000 acres of hemp being grown in Maryland’s pilot program,” Barry explains. “We expect about 500 acres on the shore to be harvested.”
Hemp provides farmers with a sustainable agricultural crop that can be added to their rotation as it increasingly becomes a mainstream product.
Growing for Good
Thanks to the Eastern Shore Incubator’s support and location, Barry sees a promising future for hemp engineered products in Dorchester County.
“The most popular and promising products begin derived from hemp today include nutritional supplements, bath and beauty products, seed protein and building materials.”
Pritchard believes that the commercial and community benefits of hemp production and hemp-derived cannabinoid products will create a sustainable market that ultimately, ‘helps the human condition.’