Effort to lure life science accelerator began last year with convening of higher education, industry and government leaders by President Meehan and Congressman Neal at UMass
Responding to today’s Biden Administration announcement that Massachusetts has been chosen as the location for the Investor Catalyst Hub of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), UMass President Marty Meehan and Congressman Richard Neal issued the following statements:
“As an international hub for medical research and development, Massachusetts is unrivaled in our readiness to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the healthcare industry. Today’s announcement rightfully acknowledges the Commonwealth’s position to deliver with great value and benefit to the nation,” said Congressman Neal. “Having spearheaded the formation of the Coalition for Health Advances and Research in Massachusetts, whose advocacy was critical in landing this partnership, it is with great personal satisfaction that I join my colleagues in state and federal government in celebrating our selection for the innovation hub of the newly formed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The Commonwealth is home to the brightest minds, ready to discover and innovate. The Biden Administration has put our nation at the forefront of efforts to make transformative biomedical and health breakthroughs, and with today’s announcement, Massachusetts stands ready to advance that mission.”
“I want to congratulate the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation led by Congressman Neal for making the case that Massachusetts should be a national focal point for accelerated life science research and innovation,” President Meehan said. “There is no place in the world better equipped than Massachusetts to drive fast and effective responses to national and global health threats.”
Last year, President Meehan and Congressman Richard Neal gathered top leaders from Massachusetts higher education, industry and government to advocate for Massachusetts as an ideal location for an ARPA-H presence. The convening served as a critical launch point for the Commonwealth to pursue one of the two ARPA-H hubs, the other being the Customer Experience Hub, which will be located in Texas.
VentureWell, a nonprofit based in Hadley, Mass., with expertise in federal health care programs and complex program management, was selected as the organization that will run and manage the Massachusetts-based hub. The Investor Catalyst hub will focus on speeding the transition of innovative ideas into practical, accessible solutions by engaging with researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors.
ARPA-H was created by the Biden Administration to accelerate research aimed at preventing and curing diseases ranging from infectious disease, chronic disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. The agency is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is designed to be more agile than the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The 5-campus University of Massachusetts’ $813 million research enterprise is the third largest among Massachusetts universities and dedicated 57 percent of that research to the life sciences. The university also has 90 core research facilities across its four nationally ranked research universities and medical school that are made available to early stage companies to accelerate their R&D.
Massachusetts has unparalleled strengths across the life sciences industry. Eighteen of the top 20 biopharma companies in the world have a presence in Massachusetts. In 2021, Massachusetts saw a record-breaking 70 percent increase in venture capital (VC) funding, representing 36 percent of the total national VC biopharma investments. Demand for lab space remains high as companies are eager to locate and grow in Massachusetts; the state has built and filled more than 21.6 million square feet of lab space over the last 10 years, with a projected 20 million new square feet in the next 5 years.
In 2008, the Commonwealth made a $1 billion, 10-year commitment to solidify the state’s prominence in the life sciences. This ambitious effort, known as the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, created the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to carry out the initiative. In 2018, the Commonwealth authorized $623 million in bond authorization and tax credits in life science-related education, research, and workforce training.