A who’s who of regional business, university, and community leaders joined the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) at Morgan State University on Aug. 24 to celebrate the submission of the Greater Baltimore Region’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to become a federal Tech Hub.
Led by the GBC, a 38-member consortium — which includes the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) — is seeking to become one of the 20 or more regions chosen for a share of $10 billion in funding as part of the Biden administration’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) program. Designed to stimulate the growth of burgeoning tech markets across the United States, the program could inject an estimated $500 million in federal funding into the region over five years, generating $4.2 billion in economic growth for the Baltimore region and creating 52,000 jobs over the next seven years.
“This is a game changer, a once in a generation type of economic development and funding opportunity that has been compared to NASA funding during the space age,” said Pothik Chatterjee, GBC’s chief economic officer.
The submission from the Baltimore region centers on artificial intelligence (AI) and biotechnology, and the intersection of those two areas, with a specific focus on predictive technologies that improve health and well-being at the individual, community, and national level.
Chatterjee noted the region has an advantage as home to more than 400 tech startups and has access to federal and academic research and development spending and more than a dozen accelerators supporting companies. The region also has a history of commercialization in medical diagnostics, health care analytics, medical devices, and gene and drug therapeutics.
As a member of the consortium, UMB is one of the country’s pre-eminent public research universities and a thriving biomedical research institution. Nearly 1,200 faculty at UMB received $692 million in extramural funding in areas including cancer, genomics, vaccines, neuroscience, vascular biology, HIV/AIDS, and regenerative medicine. With a longstanding commitment to collaboration and partnership with the global life-sciences industry, the University conducted over $63 million in corporate-sponsored research in Fiscal Year 2022 and works with more than 300 bioscience and pharmaceutical firms.
UMB is also one of the state’s most powerful economic drivers, with an economic impact on Maryland of $3.2 billion last year. The University of Maryland BioPark, Baltimore’s biggest biotechnology cluster, plays a vital role in that impact as it fuels the commercialization of new drugs, treatments, and medical devices.
“Receiving a federal Tech Hub designation would be a boon to the work UMB is already doing,” said James L. Hughes, MBA, senior vice president and chief enterprise and economic development officer at UMB. “Over the last decade, we’ve created a strong network of programs that support our entrepreneurial faculty and students and encourage the development and growth of innovative technology companies at UMB as well as in the BioPark, Baltimore City, and throughout the state. From funding initiatives that advance discoveries to investment programs that support company formation, growth, and expansion to education and training, we are providing support at every level. This designation will build upon our efforts and leverage the talent and technology emerging from our University.”
The Tech Hub designations will be announced in fall 2023, and those areas receiving designations will be invited into a second phase where each hub will be awarded between $50 to $75 million. GBC will continue to lead coordination for the Baltimore MSA for those funding rounds, which will continue into 2024.
“We believe that with this catalytic funding from the EDA, Baltimore can be a global leader in the next five to 10 years,” Chatterjee said.