UTA leads effort to establish regional biomanufacturing hub

Phase I grant would expand region’s research and manufacturing capability

Tuesday, Sep 05, 2023 • Katherine Egan Bennett : Contact

UTA Tower
The University of Texas at Arlington and its partners in North Texas and Oklahoma are leading the effort to make the region a biomanufacturing training and research hub that meets the demands of U.S. and foreign biotech companies.

UTA is the lead applicant in a consortium of nearly 20 entities from North Texas and Oklahoma for a funding opportunity released by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in May 2023 to designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the country and separately award a total of $15 million to develop strategies that will accelerate economic growth.

“With UTA’s incredible talent in research and business development in the region, we are serving as the lead of this consortium, knowing it will help further leverage biomanufacturing innovation in a research triangle with Dallas to the east, Fort Worth to the west and Oklahoma City to the north,” said UTA President Jennifer Crowley. “We are grateful to Lyda Hill Philanthropies for its generous grant that funded part of the initial market assessment for North Texas that helped build our case for the EDA.”

As the lead applicant for the Phase 1 Strategy Development Grant and Designation, UTA established a consortium between Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (DFWA) and Oklahoma City (OKC) requesting designation by EDA as a “Central Biomanufacturing Innovation Hub” (CBIH). Designation of these regions, connected by the I-35 Corridor and representing more than 9 million individuals as a collective Tech Hub, presents a powerful opportunity to form a biomanufacturing “mega-region” with significant logistical advantages, research and development, and commercialization assets.

Through strategic investments, the DFWA and OKC regions have positioned themselves as competitive biomanufacturing hubs capable of reinforcing U.S. economic strength and resilience by leveraging central U.S. resources. OKC’s focus on scaling the production of bioengineering talent, expanding capacity for supporting and managing clinical trials, and growing contract development and manufacturing production complement DFWA’s leadership in increasing output of research and new patents, creating unique wet-lab facilities to support commercial translation and workforce development initiatives in underserved communities.

“We believe the designation of this CBIH mega-region will maximize prior regional EDA investments in biotech workforce and infrastructure and add critical federal engagement into a central U.S. strategy,” said Kate C. Miller, vice president of research and innovation for UTA. “Receiving this designation and strategy development grant will ultimately contribute to the translation of bioscience research into new businesses and commercial products, expanding low-cost domestic biomanufacturing capabilities and producing a robust talent pipeline needed to ensure America’s continued leadership in bio-innovation.”

Led by UTA, the CBIH consortium also includes Arlington Economic Development Corporation, BioLabs, BioNTX, the city of Dallas, Dallas College, DFW Airport, Echo Investment Capital, Evolve Biologics, the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce, Lyda Hill Philanthropies/LH Capital Inc., McKesson, the OKC Innovation District/BioTC Oklahoma, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, University of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Stephenson Cancer Center, Texas A&M National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, and Wheeler Bio. These entities represent robust public, private and civic sector leadership already engaged in and committed to advancing CBIH’s potential. This consortium leverages shared regional expertise that addresses two of the Tech Hubs’ “key technology focus areas” of:

  • • biotechnology, medical technology, and genomics;
  • • and synthetic biology and robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing.