The Baltimore region could become a global center for predictive health care and life sciences thanks to its selection as one of 31 inaugural Tech Hubs by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
The Baltimore Tech Hub, a consortium of 38 partners led by the Greater Baltimore Committee, will aim to develop and commercialize innovative health care technologies by applying artificial intelligence to biotechnologies and by leveraging regional research universities and institutions, research and development expertise, and existing capital investment.
Local consortium partners include Loyola University Maryland, TEDCO, Evergreen Advisors, Fulton Bank, the Howard County Economic Development Authority, and the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.
“This is going to amplify what we’re already doing to grow innovation in this field,” said Troy LeMaile-Stovall, CEO of TEDCO. “It gets the region to the front of the line in terms of funding opportunities … for technology innovation and development, and it will create a lot of new jobs in the region.”
Pothik Chatterjee, the GBC’s Chief Economic Officer, said the Tech Hub designation will bring a host of benefits to the region.
“This includes greater access to federal funding programs like the Build to Scale program and the State Small Business Credit Initiative, as well as support from the Department of Agriculture related to rural development, long-term housing planning, private investment in small businesses, transportation, and Foreign Direct Investment,” he said. “We see a major pivot in the federal investment strategy toward Most Preferred Regions or Most Favored Nations for these 31 Tech Hubs.”
In the second phase of the Tech Hub program, now underway, the U.S. EDA will award Implementation Grants to Tech Hub Designees designed to propel those regions into self-sustaining global competitiveness. The deadline for applications is Feb. 29, 2024.
“We are pursuing up to $70 million and will be competing with the other 30 Tech Hubs for five to 10 awards in our tech specialization area,” Chatterjee explained. “It’s stiff competition in our category with Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Alabama.”
GBC’s application will focus on a competitive analysis of what really differentiates the Baltimore region in terms of assets along with AI and Biotech innovations that can be commercialized.
Keeping the focus on the greater good of the Baltimore ecosystem helped the GBC secure its Phase 1 win, Chatterjee said. “We’re sticking to that strategy and really doubling down on it in Phase 2.”
GBC’s Phase 2 application will approach 100 pages focused on five project components, he said, and will contain an economic impact analysis around future job creation.
It will also include revenue impact from core projects that include an accelerator and funding program for the region, anchor innovation hubs, biomanufacturing facilities, lab infrastructure, and workforce development and upskilling and training.
The Tech Hub designation arrived at a critical time for the GBC, which is now in the midst of developing a 10-year Economic Opportunity Plan for the region which it launched in May 2023.
“Our Tech Hub work will be looped into the process,” said Jennifer Vey, GBC’s executive vice president of Policy and Research.
The GBC is also currently partnering with the Greater Washington Partnership to develop Baltimore’s Transit Future, a game plan to achieve a public transit system that supports shared economic prosperity and inclusive growth in the region.
“Our focus right now is ensuring that the Red Line actually moves forward,” Vey said.
The Tech Hub designation could also help inform the regional branding initiative that the GBC is pursuing.
“There is a need for a unified message for how we talk about the region as a major area of need for GBC partners and across the area writ large,” said Nekoro Gomes, GBC’s vice president of Communications who is overseeing the rebranding effort.
GBC’s recent merger with the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore has had the benefit of building in additional support from the surrounding counties, he added.
“We are currently in the process of finalizing an RFP to solidify a partner to develop a branding and messaging campaign around some of our core assets across industry, education and academic talent,” Gomes said.
In addition to all the hard and fast planning work that’s occurring simultaneously, the GBC is preparing for its State of the Regional Economy event in February.
“We’re also developing a regional economic score card that we plan to unveil with our 10-year strategy plan around May,” Chatterjee said. “It will show our progress and what business we are able to attract to the Baltimore region.”
Beyond the February time frame, GBC is now looking ahead to June when all 31 Tech Hubs are invited to participate in the national level Select USA Conference at National Harbor.
“GBC is planning an offshoot event for Baltimore,” Chatterjee said. “It’s going to be a very fast paced next six months for us.”