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Wisconsin businesses seek to establish innovative biotech hub with federal funding

The 2022 CHIPS and Science Act set aside $10 billion to set up tech hubs across the United States.

By Oliver Willis - September 06, 2023
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Biotechnology
Merck biology lab technician Julia Volk removes a freeze-dried sample from a container. (Arne Dedert/AP Images)

A group of 15 Wisconsin-based businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions held an event on Aug. 30 to announce their intention to seek federal funding for a medical science technology hub.

The Wisconsin Biotech Hub would use money from the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act to pursue advances in biotechnology and personalized medicine, which is the use of genetic profiles to aid the medical treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases.

Members of the consortium include University of Wisconsin-Madison, Milwaukee Area Technical College, GE HealthCare, Rockwell Automation, Madison Area Technical College, and the Madison Regional Economic Partnership.

“Continued expansion of Wisconsin’s biohealth sector will also contribute to a ‘good jobs’ economy by allowing employers to develop, hire, and retain a skilled, diverse workforce in good jobs with benefits and upward mobility,” the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s economic development organization and a member of the consortium, said in a statement.

President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law on Aug. 9, 2022.

The regional tech hub program created by the new law set aside $10 billion to be invested over a five-year period in tech hubs set up across the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, funding of these hubs is meant to back industries projected to grow in the future, and to cultivate domestic jobs.

The first five financial awards are expected to be announced this fall, after the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration designates which regional hubs will receive the agency’s official designation.

If Wisconsin’s bid is successful, the state would receive anywhere from $50 million to $75 million to create the hub.

The CHIPS and Science Act’s central focus is $39 billion in tax incentives designed to grow the U.S. semiconductor industry, along with $13.2 billion in funding for domestic research related to semiconductors and affiliated workforce development.

The Wisconsin hub has the backing of Gov. Tony Evers, who said in a release that establishing the project would allow the state to advance its leadership in biotech and personalized medicine while supporting jobs and economic growth.

“Wisconsin is well positioned to be at the center of innovation and I can think of no better place in the nation for a Tech Hub,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin said in a statement announcing the project. Baldwin voted for the CHIPS and Science Act and supported its passage when it was being debated in Congress.

The final bill received support from both parties, including all of the Democrats in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Wisconsin’s Republican members of Congress unanimously opposed the bill.

“This CHIPS bill is an example of Washington’s typical solution to any problem, throw money at it, so I opposed it,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in a statement explaining his opposition to the bill in 2022.

On Aug. 9, the one-year anniversary of Biden signing the law, the Wisconsin Democratic Party criticized Johnson along with Reps. Mike Gallagher, Bryan Steil, Tom Tiffany, Glenn Grothman, and Scott Fitzgerald for opposing it.

“President Biden and Democrats’ leadership has helped us supercharge our competitiveness with China, strengthen our supply chains, and invest in the industries of the future,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Haley McCoy said in a statement. “That’s Bidenomics in action.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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