Feds select Indiana to be biotech hub, making it eligible for millions in funding

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Indiana has been chosen for one of 31 technology hubs across the United States that will support growth in industries considered vital to economic development and national security, according to the Applied Research Institute, a Bloomington-based not-for-profit that submitted Indiana’s application to the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration has designated Heartland Bioworks—a consortium of Hoosier entities that includes colleges and universities, industry groups and some of the state’s largest employers—as a regional technology and innovation hub, making it eligible for anywhere from $50 million to $75 million in an initial round of implementation funding.

Heartland Bioworks will initially focus on three initiatives that address “biotechnology, medical technology, genomics and synthetic biology,” including a training institute at the 16 Tech Innovation District that will provide training and industry work experience in the biomanufacturing sector. The group also plans to provide biotech companies with the tools to access manufacturers and distributors, as well as access to a partner facility that can be used to test new technologies.

The funding will come from the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion piece of legislation passed last year to stimulate domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors. Included in the bipartisan bill was $10 billion for a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub program, which is meant to expand tech investment to parts of the country not traditionally known as centers of innovation.

The White House has notified ARI that Heartland Bioworks will be officially designated as a tech hub, Lauren Gorey, ARI’s vice president of communications, told IBJ. An official announcement is expected Monday afternoon.

“The Economic Development Administration, with this designation, confirms what we here in Indiana have known for a long time—that the Hoosier state is a global pioneer in biotech production,” ARI CEO Dave Roberts said in written remarks. “Heartland BioWorks is securing America’s biotech future, and this Hub will provide biotech startups with access to manufacturing facilities and expertise, implement the workforce training future biotech innovations require, and focus on engaging innovators in historically economically disadvantaged communities.”

The designation could also lead to millions of dollars in federal investments and “open the floodgates for more private capital in biotech research and development across the state,” said Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., a co-author of the CHIPS, or Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors, Act.

The news was met with widespread praise by Hoosier leaders including Gov. Eric Holcomb, Eli Lilly and Co. CEO Dave Ricks, Purdue University President Mung Chiang and IU President Pamela Whitten, who called it “a crucial step” to developing Indiana’s life sciences sector.

“This is just the news we hoped to receive,” Holcomb said in written remarks. “Indiana has a rich tradition of innovation and leadership in both manufacturing and life science sectors. We‘ll continue to strongly support the Hub and look forward to moving forward in the competitive process.”

This is Indiana’s third tech hub designation since the CHIPS Act was passed last year.

A coalition including Indiana, Illinois and Michigan was one of seven selected by the Biden Administration for $1 billion in grant funding for the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen, or MachH2, which consists of more than 70 Midwest public and private organizations.

Last month, Indiana was one of eight states selected by the U.S. Department of Defense for a hub focused on supporting domestic production of microelectronics, semiconductor manufacturing and other advanced technologies.

More than 130 Hoosier tech companies reported $441 million in capital investment last year, the second highest number since Indianapolis-based TechPoint began publicly tracking those numbers, and several tech companies landed big funding rounds in 2023.

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