Region left out of federal tech hub awards

For the second time this month, a local group has come up short in a bid to attract high-profile federal funding.

  • The first was an effort led by Harrisburg-based Team Pennsylvania to land money for a clean-hydrogen hub. The Team PA effort was not among those given awards.
  • The second was an effort by a diverse group to snag funding for a health-technology initiative aimed at expanding access to care, with an emphasis on rural areas.
  • “It’s disappointing, of course, but actually we now feel some momentum behind organizing as a community,” said Michele Washko, who helped lead the effort, dubbed the Keystone Healthcare Resilience Consortium.

How did we get here: The Keystone consortium competed with applicants nationwide as part of a “tech hub” program authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a federal law better known for promising money to support the U.S. semiconductor industry.

  • The $10 billion tech hub program is designed to spur innovation at a regional level on a variety of fronts, from advanced manufacturing to sustainable plastics to renewable energy.
  • Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a list of 31 designated tech hubs, each of which is eligible for up to $70 million in funding.
  • The hubs include the Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Hub, led by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
  • The hub aims to build on the Philadelphia region’s existing strength in the life sciences to advance precision medicine, which includes breakthroughs like gene therapy.
  • Other winners include Baltimore, which is focusing on predictive health care, and a quantum computing hub centered on Chicago.
  • Another 29 entities won planning grants, the kind of grant the Keystone consortium was seeking.
  • Those grants are designed to help less-urban regions compete for future tech hub designations and grants.
  • The list of all hubs and grantees is here

What’s next: The Keystone consortium is aiming to continue its work, said Washko, who also is president and CEO of Harrisburg-based venture fund Life Sciences Greenhouse Investments.

  • But, she said, the path forward is “very much to be determined.”
  • Funding opportunities could arise down the road, she added.
  • The consortium’s goals include refining telemedicine, training clinicians who would be using new technologies and figuring out how to speed delivery of innovation to the rural areas where it’s needed.
  • The consortium includes members representing 19 counties, including Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York.
  • Core members include Albright University, the Capital Region Economic Development Corp., the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of PennsylvaniaHarrisburg University of Science and TechnologyPenn State College of Medicine, the Center for Supply Chain Research at Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.


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