MANCHESTER, NH – When Dean Kamen gives you homework, you should probably get to it – especially when an emergent global industry hangs in the balance.
Kamen, who is Executive Director and board chair of Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA was the featured speaker during Friday’s Build Back Manchester Community Celebration, acknowledging the game-changing $44 million investment in the city’s biomanufacturing future.
But it comes with a caveat: It takes a village to grow a revolutionary industry poised to change the world, so it’s time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and manifest the future.
“We’ve been given a great opportunity, but we don’t want to blow it,” Kamen said. The award was not given to one company or particular entity, he said, but rather it was awarded to Manchester based on the promise of an inclusive coalition of government, education, business and technology working together.
Flanked by Mayor Joyce Craig and U.S. Economic Development Authority’s Craig Buerstatte under a big tent in Arms Park Friday, Kamen laid out what this particular seed money can mean for Manchester as the hub of a future global regenerative medicine industry.
California’s Silicon Valley is old news, Kamen said.
“We’re going to build Carbon Valley in Southern New Hampshire and it will be the epicenter of science, technology, engineering and medicine to start to supply replacement human organs to people,” Kamen said. More than just an exciting opportunity, Kamen said this is likely to be the only groundbreaking technology of its kind that we will be witness to “in our lifetime.”
Federal grants from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, totaling $1 billion dollars, were awarded to 21 city-based coalitions, including Manchester and cover a range of innovation and job creation, from agricultural food technologies and environmental sustainability projects to robotics within the food manufacturing industry to green energy development. [See full list of recipients below.]
With Kamen’s ARMI/BioFab central to the project, the $44 million EDA funding will be used to develop BioFab Foundries for late-stage clinical and commercial manufacturing for scaled production of cells, tissue and organs as life-saving therapies. It would be the first and only manufacturing plant of its kind with outsourcing capability.
In addition, the Manchester coalition will implement five other projects including the creation of a BioFabrication accelerator, a cluster work-and-learn program in partnership with community-based organizations. Benefits from cluster growth through the structure of the grant, will be directed to underserved communities in Southern New Hampshire, an exciting prospect for programs like MyTurn, which helps those who have fallen through educational cracks to find new pathways to success.
Allison Joseph, Executive Director of MyTurn, a unique outreach that provided educational opportunities for those who have faced various hurdles, says this program will open doors that previously didn’t exist for participants.
“What we’ve heard is that for every Ph.D. position there will be 10 non-degreed positions, which means opportunities for our high school and HiSET graduates,” says Joseph. “I always think about what it does for a household, the quick multi-generational impact for families,” she said, when one person is able to expand their education and employment opportunities.
Ward 10 School board member Gary Hamer was seated at a table sampling refreshments provided by Tidewater Catering with his wife, State Rep. Heidi Hamer, At-Large School Board member Jim O’Connell and At-Large Alderwoman June Trisciani.
Hamer said while he doesn’t yet understand the full scope of the grant, he knows it presents a huge opportunity for the millyard and city.
“I used to travel to the Raleigh (NC) Research Triangle – maybe this becomes our version of that,” Hamer said. “There’s so much opportunity that will come with this. All these years we’ve been waiting for infrastructure, and this is it. Biden did it.”
O’Connell said he’s especially excited about the potential for high-quality high-paying jobs.
“It’s a place for our own graduating students to remain, to stay, work and live in Manchester,” O’Connell said. The project coincides with the school district’s long-term planning around curriculum with potential to produce students prepared to work in this emerging industry.
Trisciani said the celebration is the culmination of a long-range plan for development of the city’s biotechnology base that began in 2017 with the launch of ARMI/BioFab.
“Coupled with the Inflation Reduction Act businesses can provide good paying jobs for young professionals and internships for college and university students that will bring people to this and surrounding communities,” Trisciani said. “It’s a win for Manchester and the state.”
There have already been inroads laid for the city’s youngest students to spark their imaginations around the wonders of science and technology through programming like SEE Science Center’s educational field trips and ongoing projects.
“Our field trips for middle-schoolers are already filled for the fall with hands-on experiences,” said SEE Science Deputy Director Pete Gustafson.
“We partnered with ARMI to develop programs that introduce bio-engineering and career opportunities to a middle school audience so that by high school, they’re already on a path to do something they otherwise might not have known was even a possibility,” Gustafson said.
Manchester’s Economic Development Director Jodie Nazaka said she’s excited about the economic boost to the city from this “transformative change.”
“Over the course of several years we’ll see 7,000 jobs and 37,000 indirect jobs grow from this, and something that will have economic development impact for 30 years into the future, not just for those getting involved now but for their children and grandchildren,” Nazaka said. “A big part of the grant involves investment in education and workforce development to make sure this opportunity extends to everyone in our community, including those from lower-income families, so that they can benefit from high-quality high-paying jobs and enjoy life’s pleasures.”
Partnerships with local colleges and universities include the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus, where last year Dean Mike Decelle provided a tour of their Biotechnology Innovation Center for state lawmakers. Decelle’s efforts were credited by Kamen with being an integral part of the city’s successful bid for the federal grant money.
“It’s hard not to be excited by it. Days like this make it very real,” Decelle said. “Grants can be abstract when you’re working on them, but this moment reminds you how much effort it takes and the support needed when we started the biofab project, which involved maybe half a dozen people.”
The growth of the project, accelerated by the $44 million grant, is already taking shape based on the number of community members in attendance for Friday’s celebration.
“With this money, a tent like this will be completely full next year,” Ducelle said. “I’m taken by the generational scope of this – look at the number of young people in this tent seated alongside scientists who will be working together on this project for the next 20 to 30 years.”
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge winners:
Central Valley Community Foundation (California)
$65.1 million for the F3 – Fresno-Merced Future of Food
City of Manchester (New Hampshire)
$44 million for The BioFabrication Cluster
Coalfield Development (West Virginia)
$62.8 million for the Appalachian Climate Technologies (ACT Now) Initiative
Detroit Regional Partnership Foundation (Michigan)
$52.2 million for the Global Epicenter of Mobility
Empire State Development (New York)
$25 million for Western New York’s Advanced Manufacturing Cluster
Four Bands Community Fund (South Dakota)
$45 million for the Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition
Georgia Tech Research Corporations (Georgia)
$65 million for GA-AIM
Greater New Orleans Development Foundation (Louisiana)
$50 million for H2theFuture
Greater St. Louis, Inc. (Missouri)
$25 million for the St. Louis Tech Triangle
Indian Nations Council of Governments (Oklahoma)
$39 million for the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility Cluster
Invest Nebraska Corporation (Nebraska)
$25 million for the Heartland Robotics Cluster
North Carolina Biotechnology Center (North Carolina)
$25 million for Accelerate NC – Life Sciences Manufacturing
Oklahoma City Economic Development Foundation (Oklahoma)
$35 million for the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster Initiative
Osceola County Board of County Commissioners (Florida)
$50.8 million for the Building Central Florida’s Semiconductor Cluster for Broad-Based Prosperity
Port of Portland (Oregon)
$41.4 million for the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition
Southeast Conference (Alaska)
$49 million for the Alaska Mariculture Cluster
Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative (Pennsylvania)
$62.7 million for the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative
The State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton (New York)
$63.7 million for New Energy New York
The University of Texas at El Paso (Texas)
$40 million for the West Texas A&D Cluster
Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority (Virginia)
$52.9 million for the Virginia Advanced Pharma Manufacturing (APM) and R&D
Wichita State University (Kansas)
$51.4 million for the South Kansas Coalition