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The Power of Partnership – the Richmond-Petersburg Region Secures Designation as Tech Hub by Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce

RICHMOND, Va. and PETERSBURG, Va.Oct. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), announced yesterday that the Richmond-Petersburg MSA (the Region) has been designated as an Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hub). The application is led by the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) on behalf of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine (Alliance), a program of Activation Capital, which has brought together diverse member organizations like CCAM to develop an advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster in the Region.

Convened and supported by Activation Capital, the Alliance (buildingbettermedicine.com) is comprised of public and private sector APM and research stakeholders, including 16 partners and 23 supporting organizations. These stakeholders have been collaborating over the past four years to scale up the region’s APM cluster to address the nation’s pressing need for quality, affordable essential medicines, deepen the region’s commitment to innovation-fueled growth, and bring additional good-paying jobs to the region. The successful wins of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grants provided Alliance members with the ability to accelerate the needed infrastructure, workforce, supply chain, and coordinated growth opportunities. These are outlined and underway through a state-funded strategic planning process and early implementation work, reinforcing the power of collaboration and partnership to build something better together.

These efforts positioned the Alliance for success in setting the coalition up to apply for additional funding through the EDA and garnering designation as an APM global Tech Hub. Out of nearly 400 applications, the Region was selected as one of 31 winning Tech Hubs, and will have the opportunity to compete for $40 million to $70 million in implementation funding in the next phase of the Tech Hubs competition, as announced yesterday through the EDA’s notice of funding opportunity.

This coveted Tech Hub designation is a strong endorsement of the region’s plan to supercharge a critical technology ecosystem and become a global leader in APM. It also raises the region’s profile for attracting international business development.

“CCAM is proud to serve as the lead applicant for the Alliance for Building Better Medicine’s Tech Hubs Designation status,” said John Milton-Benoit, President and CEO, CCAM. As an industry-led public-private partnership, CCAM has been solving advanced manufacturing challenges for over a decade, developing modern digital tools that address critical supply chain needs for our partners and our nation. We are looking forward to leveraging these capabilities as part of the Alliance to address US medicine shortages and re-shore advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

“The research at the Medicines for All Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University over the past decade was foundational to the building of an APM cluster in the Region, but without the strong partnerships we’ve developed through our work as an Alliance we would not have had the opportunity to change the landscape for medicine manufacturing for the nation and beyond. The shared successes over the past several years are extraordinary and we’re excited to see it grow and amplify through the investments of the EDA and this designation as an APM Tech Hub,” said Frank Gupton, PhD, CEO, Medicines for All Institute.

“Serving as a designated Tech Hub by the U.S. Department of Commerce is a reflection of the deep level of collaboration, talent, and unwavering commitment to a shared mission that is firmly in place throughout the RichmondPetersburg region,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. “The Tech Hub designation secured by the Alliance and made possible by Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing serving as the lead on the application process is another monumental step forward for transformative programs that are powered by partners working arm in arm to create a thriving and equitable ecosystem for generations of innovators to come.”

“As an Alliance, we are fostering collaboration between members that will result in unprecedented levels of access to life-changing medicines while simultaneously driving economic growth, national security, and job creation,” said Robby Demeria, Founding Board Chair of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Phlow Corp. “Serving as a designated Regional Innovation and Technology Hub will help us further transform the RichmondPetersburg region into a central access point for R&D, advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing, workforce development, and supply chain development. Ultimately, our work together will be measured by our ability to improve access and availability of domestically produced, high-quality medicines that are essential to the health of all communities.”

“The work of building an evolving and growing coalition of partner organizations is dynamic and necessitates the willingness of the leaders to build deep trust, have crucial conversations, and commit often to one another and to the broad, audacious mission before them – something that this coalition continues to evidence through its shared success,” said Joy Polefrone, PhD, Executive Director for the Alliance. “I believe that this is one of the key investments that the EDA is making in the Designation of this Tech Hub – in the unique combination of individuals, teams, and diverse organizations who are leading and engaging in the building of a world-class APM Technology Hub in our Region. It’s an honor to be engaged in this impactful work to strengthen opportunities for our communities while developing and manufacturing medicines that will support patients and families across the nation and beyond.”

The EDA’s Tech Hubs Program aims to strengthen U.S. economic and national security with investments in regions across the country with assets and resources with the potential to become globally competitive in the technologies and industries of the future – and for those industries, companies, and the good jobs they create, to start, grow, and remain in the United States.

Additional follow-on funding benefits for Tech Hub designees include preference for the EDA’s Build to Scale program which awards and manages a portfolio of grants designed to increase regional capacity to strengthen ecosystems that equitably and inclusively support diverse technology innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups. Distressed communities within Tech Hub regions will be given higher consideration for other relevant Economic Development Administration funding opportunities.

The Alliance member organizations are:

About Activation Capital

Activation Capital is a leading innovation ecosystem development organization providing social, knowledge, and financial capital to clusters, entrepreneur support organizations, and entrepreneurs – accelerating their progress through development and maturation. Activation Capital, an independent authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is on a mission to grow life sciences and other advanced technology innovation by promoting scientific research, commercialization, and ecosystem development that attracts and creates 21st-century jobs and companies. It operates the 34-acre Virginia Bio+Tech Park – Central Virginia’s hub of life sciences and technology innovations. It also oversees the Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical R&D and Manufacturing and supports developing and expanding the region’s start-up ecosystem. The Alliance for Building Better Medicine is one of many transformative programs launched by Activation Capital as an innovation ecosystem development organization. For more information, visit activation.capital.

About Alliance for Building Better Medicine

Alliance for Building Better Medicine is driven by an immediate and urgent need to create a reliable supply of safe, high-quality, and affordable medicines for all. The Alliance is powered by multi-jurisdictional public and private sector stakeholders in the RichmondPetersburg region working together to define a new era in R&D, advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing, workforce development, and supply chain development. For more information, visit buildingbettermedicine.com.

About Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Founded in 2011, CCAM is a 501c3 public-private partnership that offers a resourceful and IP-friendly environment for manufacturers. CCAM is recognized globally as an innovation campus where industry, academia, and government solve advanced manufacturing challenges and grow a qualified manufacturing workforce ecosystem. CCAM member companies have access to accomplished engineering researchers and can pursue research on industry-scale equipment using state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing technologies. Through CCAM’s unique consortium, members can access the resources of five different research universities: Old Dominion UniversityUniversity of VirginiaVirginia TechVirginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia State University.

CCAM is transforming manufacturing to help build intelligent systems and improve digital capabilities for manufacturers regionally, nationally, and internationally. For more information, visit ccam-va.com.

SOURCE Activation Capital

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