Massachusetts to compete for high risk-high reward federal biomedical research facility | State


(The Center Square) – Massachusetts is gunning to secure the headquarters for a newly-funded federal research agency, Gov. Charlie Baker said.

The governor said an effort was undertaken by state officials to secure the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which would focus on biomedical research.

“Massachusetts is a global hub for health care research, life sciences, and academia, making our state a highly attractive place for the headquarters of the new ARPA-H agency,” Baker said in the release. “We look forward to working with our partners in government, higher education and the vibrant life sciences and health care sectors of our economy to make a strong case for the Commonwealth to be the home of this exciting new agency.”

ARPA-H, which was developed by the Biden administration, works to advance research directed at preventing and curing diseases, including infectious disease, chronic disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

According to the release, the program featured a $1 billion investment when it was passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Joe Biden. The fiscal year 2023 budget proposal from the Biden administration has earmarked $6.5 billion in funding over the next three years.

The agency, according to the release, is modeled from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but will be nimbler than the National Institutes of Health. Currently, the new program does not have an agency headquarters.

“Massachusetts has the finest hospitals, colleges and universities, and biotech sector in the world,” Neal said in the release. “When it comes to health care, higher education, and innovation, we are at the forefront of global leadership. Massachusetts is an international hub for medical research and development, which is why our state is the best location for ARPA-H. I am eager to make this a reality.”

Several states, according to the release, are expected to vie for the headquarters, and Massachusetts is building its case as to why it should house the agency. Officials pointed to the state having top-notch, world-class research institutions, hospitals, companies, and a commitment to construct a life sciences ecosystem; 18 of the top 20 biopharma companies in the world have a footprint in the state.

Last year, according to the release, the state saw a record-setting 70% increase in venture capital funding, which accounted for 36% of venture capital investments in biopharma companies. The state has constructed, and filled, 21.6 million square-feet of lab space and estimates adding another 20 million square-feet over the next five years.

Over the last 10 years, the state has aimed to sustain and strengthen the life sciences sector. The state made a $1 billion commitment over 10 years in 2008 in the life sciences industry. According to the release, in 2018 legislation was passed and signed by Baker allocating $623 million in bonds and tax credits over a five-year period for education, research, development, and work force training in the sector.


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