BOSTON, BURLINGTON, WORCESTER, GLOUCESTER, WALTHAM, MA; PROVIDENCE, SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI; PORTLAND, ME; ISSUED FEBRUARY 1, 2022…BioConnects New England, a multi-state coalition that connects hubs throughout New England to support existing – and establish new – biomanufacturing infrastructure as a pathway to increase employment and educational opportunities for underserved regions and populations, was recently named a Phase 1 finalist of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
The $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge is the marquee of the U.S. Economic Development Association’s (EDA) American Rescue Plan programs that aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities, including those grappling with decades of disinvestment. The Challenge provides transformational investments to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing equitable economic growth, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. global competitiveness.
Massachusetts-based Northeastern University leads the BioConnects New England Coalition, which includes the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Laboratory at Northeastern University (Burlington, Mass.), the Roux Institute at Northeastern University (Portland, Maine), Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (Waltham, Mass.), Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the I-195 Design & Innovation District (Providence, R.I.), and the University of Rhode Island, located in South Kingstown.
Through this initiative, BioConnects New England intends to create a biomanufacturing cluster in the region of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island that have been historically excluded from the biotechnology industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors in New England with national importance.
The coalition is led by Jared R. Auclair, associate dean of Professional and Graduate Programs in the College of Science at Northeastern University and the director of their Biopharmaceutical Analysis and Training Laboratory (BATL), and Alicia Sasser Modestino, an associate professor at Northeastern University with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics. She also serves as the research director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern.
“Since the pandemic began, there has been a recognition across the region that any plan to ‘build back better’ must include communities that often get left behind yet retain many assets with unrealized potential,” said Modestino. “These include existing infrastructure, transportation networks, educational institutions, and a diverse yet underutilized workforce—assets which the BioConnects project will lift up as part of a comprehensive regional economic development strategy centered around biopharmaceutical manufacturing.”
“Our coalition will focus on creating a talent pipeline by leveraging resources at community colleges for retraining programs to support biomanufacturing jobs,” said Auclair. “As part of this effort, our outreach will focus on increasing opportunities to explore STEM careers among students, particularly women and people of color.
“We’re excited to continue this important work on these efforts, and are grateful to the EDA for their initial demonstration of support and confidence,” Auclair added.
The two-phase competition will ultimately award 20-30 regional coalitions between $25 and $100 million to implement three to eight projects that support an industry sector. In late 2021, the EDA announced 60 Phase 1 finalists, out of 529 original applications. Phase 2 finalists will be announced this June.
ABOUT BIOCONNECTS NEW ENGLAND
BioConnects New England is a multi-state coalition and finalist of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge—a $1 billion program sponsored by the Economic Development Administration. Through this initiative, BioConnects New England will create a biomanufacturing cluster in the region of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island that have been historically excluded from the biotechnology industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors in New England with national importance. This coalition will connect hubs throughout New England to support existing—and establish new—biomanufacturing infrastructure as a pathway to increase employment and educational opportunities for underserved regions and populations.
For more information about BioConnects New England, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.