The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has designated a consortium of Indiana stakeholders, including Purdue University, as one of 31 regional technology hubs (Tech Hubs) across America. The designation recognizes regions poised to ensure the United States is globally competitive in areas that are key to national security.
According to Indiana’s Applied Research Institute, Heartland BioWorks brings together Indiana academic institutions, industry leaders, investors, and nonprofit organizations to ensure that bioproducts invented in America are also produced domestically. BioWorks will focus on the development of new programs, infrastructure, and networks to accelerate workforce development and help dismantle barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small-business owners with new biotech products, noted Mung Chiang, president, Purdue.
“Through BioWorks, we have assembled partners that bring together biotech and manufacturing research and resources,” added Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research, Purdue. “Purdue’s research mission supports national and economic security for all, and we’re eager to contribute our leading-edge R&D and training expertise in biotechnology and manufacturing for the health of people within our state and across our nation.”
Indiana leads the nation in pharmaceutical exports and has the second-highest concentration of life sciences jobs in the United States, Purdue is a strong contributor to both the pharma R&D and workforce development pipelines, with nearly 100 drugs in the university’s pipeline, and three Purdue faculty-discovered drugs having received FDA approval in the last two years, pointed out a spokesperson at the university.
Pharma manufacturing institute
Purdue last year launched the William D. Young Institute for Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals, based on a donation from pharma and biotech industry veteran William D. Young, who graduated from Purdue with an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering.
The Young Institute focuses on furthering pharmaceutical manufacturing to reduce costs and expand access to new drugs emerging from biotech research. It is one of seven interdisciplinary institutes related to health and biomedical sciences within the Institutes and Centers at Discovery Park District at Purdue, which work on advancing large-scale research in support of solving societal challenges.
The Young Institute also offers opportunities for workforce development, with the potential to train future Indiana workers in the basics of the pharmaceutical industry and serves as a workforce training resource for Midwestern pharmaceutical companies. Purdue plans to bring pharma training through the institute to Indianapolis, including potentially through the university’s Indianapolis campus.
BioWorks states that it will support the national need for domestic manufacturing operations for new (particularly small-batch) bioproducts and infrastructure dedicated to innovations in how those bioproducts are made, with the goal of bringing new bioproducts to market more quickly and encouraging more businesses to start and grow in Indiana.
The Birmingham, AL, area was also federally designated as a tech hub. The region is expected to leverage its existing assets, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) data bank from patients of racially diverse populations, to increase representation in clinical genomic data and clinical trials and accelerate drug discovery and development.
UAB, a Carnegie R1 research university, and Southern Research (SR), a nonprofit translational research institute specializing in drug and vaccine discovery and development, already conduct over $750 million annually in research expenditures from grants in the biomedical sciences.