White House To Spur More Biotech Development With $2B Investment
The U.S. is on the brink of another industrial revolution, Biden administration officials say, this time on the back of biotechnology.
The White House rolled out new investments totaling $2B aimed at expanding the U.S. biotech and biomanufacturing industry Wednesday, part of the administration's broader effort to boost the U.S. manufacturing economy.
The investments — highlighted by at least $1B in biomanufacturing — are part of President Joe Biden’s National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative. He signed an executive order on Monday for the initiative to encourage more biotech research and production in the U.S.
“We're now in a position to move out in a historic way against a modern American industrial strategy, and the bioeconomy can be at the center of that,” said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, speaking Wednesday at a White House summit announcing the investments.
These federal investments will provide the commercial real estate industry with opportunities to accelerate biomanufacturing development, and they could spur growth in housing and other related industries as more products are approved and jobs are created.
Nationally, life sciences employment increased by 5.5% year-over-year in the second quarter, according to CBRE’s U.S. Life Sciences report. There is approximately 31.1M SF of lab space under construction nationally, with 31% of it already pre-leased.
In the Boston area, the nation’s largest biotech market, a wave of biomanufacturing projects totaling more than 1.7M SF is moving forward, according to a report released last month from industry group MassBio.
On Monday, Biden visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, where he gave a speech on his "cancer moonshot" on the anniversary of Kennedy's "man on the moon" speech. During this, he emphasized the importance of biotechnology in cancer research and treatment development.
“[President Biden] is quite passionate about the idea that 'who said that in America we can't have a strong robust and growing manufacturing sector?' and biomanufacturing has the potential to be at the lead of that,” Deese said. “Biomanufacturing depends on local feedstocks. It will create real impact to create place-based economic opportunities around biomanufacturing activity in communities throughout the nation.”
The new investments will focus on expanding domestic biomanufacturing, drive research and development innovation in established and emerging markets across the country, and grow the biotech workforce.
The largest of the investments comes from the Department of Defense, which plans to invest at least $1B in bioindustrial domestic manufacturing infrastructure over the next five years. A White House fact sheet pegged this investment at $1B, while DoD Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said at the summit that the department plans to invest "nearly $1.5B."
“We believe these investments will incentivize biotech innovation and manufacturing capacity for products important both for commercial and defense supply chains,” Hicks said. “This investment really builds on a history of groundbreaking DoD investment in the biotech space.”
As part of its investment, three Manufacturing USA institutes — DoD’s BioFabUSA and BioMADE and the Department of Commerce’s NIIMBL — will expand industry partnerships. BioMADE will launch hubs to support regional development and job creation, according to the White House Fact Sheet.
The federal investments don’t just focus on the nation’s largest markets like Boston, San Francisco and San Diego, but the administration wants to make sure that emerging markets are also getting a fair share. The Department of Energy announced it will invest $200M to regional bioeconomies like New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon and Alaska.
These regional economies not only will benefit from the biotech boom but other industries like marine farming and forestry. Pushing for a boost in regional biotech economies will also help accelerate affordable housing production and rebuild the pharmaceutical supply chain to help lower drug costs, according to the fact sheet.
Solugen CEO Gaurab Chakrabarti, speaking at the summit, said his biomanufacturing firm has focused on expanding in emerging markets.
“If you look at what Solugen has done, we have a commercial facility in Houston, we have a second facility in West Texas and we're building our third facility in Marshall, Minnesota. Each one of these are actually built in neighborhoods that are not very well served,” Chakrabarti said. “It's about the ability to engineer biology and give this opportunity to the next generation of people that can create companies.”
The DoE will provide another $60M toward the commercialization of biorefineries, facilities that will use renewable chemicals and fuels to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This is the president’s latest move in boosting the country's domestic manufacturing industry. In August, Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which provided $53B toward manufacturing semiconductors in the U.S.