Traditionally, the tech and biotech sectors in the U.S. have been concentrated in a handful of regions — most notably in areas such as Boston, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Southern California. But the Biden administration aims to distribute innovation more evenly through the U.S. To that end, the administration has designated 31 tech hubs across the U.S. to help drive innovation and job creation in a variety of industries.
These tech hubs are part of a competitive program involving $500 million in federal funding, with each hub eligible to apply for $50–$75 million to drive innovation in their respective focus areas. Here, we highlight 10 hubs that are especially relevant to the pharma and biotech sectors, describing their unique focus areas.
Three of the regions were featured in an earlier Drug Discovery & Development roundup on emerging biotech hubs: Baltimore, Maryland; Madison, Wisconsin; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
1. Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Disputanta, Virginia
The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Tech Hub in Disputanta, Virginia near the Richmond-Petersburg metro region aims to spur progress in the pharma sector. With leadership from the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, the Tech Hub will focus on the production of affordable medicines. In particular, by using technologies such as continuous flow manufacturing, the Tech Hub seeks to address vulnerabilities related to offshore drug ingredient supply chains. Key partners involved in the hub include the Medicines for All Institute at VCU, Activation Capital, Civica, and Phlow Corp.
2. Biofabrication and Regenerative Medicine: ReGen Valley Tech Hub in New Hampshire
ReGen Valley Tech Hub (NH), with leadership from the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), will focus on using biofabrication to produce cost-effective regenerative therapies that address chronic disease and organ failure. With support from the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), the hub will tap the region’s existing biotech industry and partnerships to scale up the production of human cells, tissues, and organs. The hub follows an initiative from inventor Dean Kamen to establish Southern New Hampshire as a biofabrication hub. The Tech Hub designation will help fund startup incubators, training programs, and advanced manufacturing facilities tailored to cell and gene therapy production in the Manchester Millyard area.
3. Biologics and biomanufacturing: Kansas City
The Kansas City Inclusive Biologics and Biomanufacturing Tech Hub (KC BioHub) will aim to drive innovation in vaccine-related biologics and to help the U.S. secure a larger portion of human vaccine sales. The goal of the hub is to strengthen the region’s standing in the biologics and biomanufacturing industry. Animal health will naturally also be a focus of the hub, which boasts a high concentration of veterinary medicine firms.
4. Biologics and Biomanufacturing: Central Indiana
Heartland BioWorks, spearheaded by the Applied Research Institute, seeks to make Central Indiana a global leader in biotech and biomanufacturing. It already has experience in that regard, having helped produce all three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines and brings together industry giants like Eli Lilly, Corteva, and Elanco with local research universities. Federal funding will boost the region’s medicine production and strengthen the nation’s biotech supply chain, supporting the development of next-gen biotech products.
5. Biotechnology and Medical Device Manufacturing: Puerto Rico
The PRBio Tech Hub in Puerto Rico, with leadership from the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust, will fast-track the discovery, development, manufacturing, and supply of next-gen biotech and medical device products. Puerto Rico already has strong pharmaceutical development alliances among universities and industry, including biopharmaceutical incubators. In addition to being named a Tech Hub, PRBio Tech Hub received a Strategy Development Grant to support planning efforts.
6: Personalized Medicine: Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub, with support from BioForward Wisconsin, will focus on personalized medicine, including the development of approaches that tailors tests, treatments, and therapies based on a patient’s genetic code, medical history, and environment. With the fresh funding, Wisconsin can expand lab space and strengthen talent pipelines to cement its status as a biomedicine leader.
7. Predictive Healthcare Technologies: Baltimore
The Baltimore Tech Hub seeks to establish the region as a leader in predictive healthcare technologies by integrating AI and biotech. With support from the Greater Baltimore Committee, the hub will draw inspiration from the region’s research universities and institutions, research and development expertise, and significant capital investments. In particular, the Baltimore Tech Hub plans to develop an equitable technology model, known as “equi-tech.” This model will support the creation of predictive healthcare technologies that can support clinical decision-making, bioethics, personalized medicine, new biologics, and therapeutic interventions.
8. Predictive Healthcare Technologies: Birmingham Biotechnology Hub (AL)
The Birmingham Biotechnology Hub, led by the Southern Research Institute, aims to establish Birmingham as a global leader in inclusive drug, vaccine, and diagnostic development through AI-driven biotechnology. The hub specifically will aim to increase representation in clinical genomic data and clinical trials to accelerate drug discovery and development. To that end, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s extensive data bank of racially diverse patient populations, will play a role in achieving this goal. The hub will use this data to train AI models, ensuring a more inclusive approach to pharmaceutical development. In particular, the Birmingham Biotechnology Hub aims to deliver affordable and effective drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics that cater to a diverse global patient population.
9. Precision medicine: Philadelphia
The Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub, led by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, will tap the region’s life sciences assets and research and development expertise to develop end-to-end precision medicine. The goal is to incorporate biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics with the aim of improving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, while decreasing health disparities. “The Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub will develop and deliver technology with new ways to diagnose, prevent, and treat harmful diseases,” said Senator Bob Menendez in a press release.
10. Microfluidics: Corvallis, Oregon
Through collaborative efforts between Oregon State University, high-performance computing, and advanced materials companies, the Corvallis Microfluidics Tech Hub will focus on microfluidics. In addition to applications in the semiconductor industry, including in semiconductor and electronics cooling, microfluidics also promise to facilitate the development of personalized medicine by enabling the analysis of small sample volumes. By using microfluidics, researchers can simulate human physiology on microchips, allowing for high-throughput screening of drug compounds and reducing the need for animal testing.