By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
The Greater Baltimore region has become a federally-designated tech hub for biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI). President Biden designated 31 communities across the U.S. as Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs on Oct. 23 as part of the CHIPS and Science Act.
The hubs are tasked with driving investment in technologies that are critical to the country’s economic growth, national security, job creation and global competitiveness. Baltimore’s tech hub will be led by the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC).
“From a personal level, this is one of the highlights of my life. From a professional standpoint, I’m super committed to GBC providing economic leadership that has been missing from the region,” said Mark Anthony Thomas, president and CEO of GBC. “To me, this is a win toward building the trust locally that we can do that.”
GBC oversaw the application process for this designation, engaging more than 30 stakeholder organizations in the Greater Baltimore region for the bid. The consortium included local institutions, like Morgan State University (MSU), Fearless, Digital Harbor Foundation, Fulton Bank and Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The focus areas for the bid were AI and biotechnology. In the application, GBC leaned into the city being poised to lead in predictive health technologies, which analyze past health care data to identify patterns and improve health outcomes.
The nonprofit expects that this technology will create 52,000 jobs in the region by 2030.
“We realized that those were two themes that had a consistent thread through community colleges, HBCUs and research institutions and in the private sector and government. Now, we’re allowed to put those ideas in front of the federal government and see where there is willingness to put money behind them,” said Thomas. “What distinguished us among the 400 applicants was that our technology and our focus had the potential to have the economic impact that the federal government wants to see.”
Now that Greater Batimore has been given the designation, GBC and its consortium will initiate phase two of the program. This will involve competing for up to $75 million in funding to operationalize biotechnology and AI projects that will propel economic development and sustainability in the area.
“I’m extremely proud of the 38 consortium members who came together. It is not easy bringing a wide range of partners to the table,” said LaToya Staten, director of impact at Fearless. “This is not just about Baltimore, it’s about the region. It’s really exciting to get this designation.”
She thinks leveraging the region’s robust research institutions, like MSU and JHU, will be key to future projects.
“As Governor Moore says, we’ve always been asset rich and strategy poor,” said Staten. “This allows us to really gather Greater Baltimore to put together a good, collective strategy for showing the rest of the country that Baltimore is here, and we are one of the top tech hubs.”
Megan Sayles is a Report For America corps member.