Gloucester Daily Times, March 2022
A classroom full of future biotech lab technicians at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute’s Biotechnology Academy served as a backdrop Friday as officials from BioConnects New England unveiled a push to create a regional bio-manufacturing cluster in traditionally under-served communities in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. The multi-state coalition is a finalist of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a $1 billion competitive grant program sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Finalists can apply for up to a maximum $100 million grant. Officials said they expect to hear about the grant awards in the fall.
The goal of BioConnects New England is to grow and spread out work in bio-manufacturing, which involves making products from living systems, such as those used to make biopharmaceuticals, for example. It see the industry would move away from the traditional high-priced biotech hub of Kendall Square in Cambridge to low- and moderate-income cities such as Gloucester, Worcester and others. Officials hope to close the workforce gap for biotech workers and provide educational and training opportunities along with well-paying biotech jobs in Gateway Cities.
A key component of the effort includes workforce development, a specialty of GMGI, which runs the biotechnology academy at 55 Blackburn Center to train young adults to be lab techs without their having to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science.