Puerto Rico Science, Tech and Research Trust chosen for Tech Hub program
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust has been chosen as one of 32 entities to participate in the 2023 Tech Hubs Designee and Strategy Development grant program, an economic development initiative designed to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s ability to manufacture, commercialize and deploy technology to enhance competitiveness.
As a designated Tech Hub, the entity will lead the PRBio Tech Hub, which aims to position the region as a global leader in biotechnology through “fast-tracking the discovery, development, manufacturing, and supply of next generation biotechnology and medical device products to detect, treat, and cure diseases and ailments,” according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
The members of the PRBio Tech Hub Consortium, along with the Trust, include: Humberto Mercader from the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish); John Bozek from InvestPR; Nelson Perea from PRTec; Rodolfo Romanach from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (known as RUM); Wanda Maldonado from the UPR’s Medical Sciences Campus; Iván Lugo from INDUNIV; and Eduardo Nicolau from the UPR’s Molecular Science Research Center.
“This designation is designed to strengthen the U.S. economy and national security, essentially qualifying us for subsequent grants of up to $75 million for economic development activities. In the case of Puerto Rico, our ‘tech hub’ is bases on life sciences and biotechnology. We are proud that Puerto Rico, through the Trust, is part of this group of 31 technology centers across the United States,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
Meanwhile, David Gulley, executive director of the Science Trust’s Technology Transfer Office, added: “The Strategy Development grant was a team effort of our consortium members, with support from a set of collaborators. It will position the PRBio Tech Hub for Phase 2 funding as a Designated Hub for implementation projects to help propel the region into a self-sustaining, globally competitive Tech Hub.”
For decades, Puerto Rico has been known as the “Medicine Cabinet of the United States,” the White House said, adding that the island is “home to many of the world’s top-grossing pharmaceutical companies.”
“This Tech Hub will leverage the region’s existing assets — including expertise in advanced manufacturing, strong pharmaceutical development partnerships among universities and industry, and biopharmaceutical incubators — to make the U.S. biotechnology supply chain more resilient and meet the public health and national security challenges of tomorrow,” it added in a news release.
Tech Hubs was authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, a part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which he signed into law in August 2022. The Tech Hub designation “is an endorsement of the region’s plans to supercharge their respective technological industries to create jobs, strengthen U.S. competitiveness, and protect national security,” the White House stated.
The 32 participating entities are part of the program’s first phase and were chosen from nearly 400 applications submitted by regional consortia comprising industry, academia, and various governmental and economic development organizations.
As part of the Tech Hubs competition, each consortium outlined plans for strengthening their region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize and deploy critical technologies.
The U.S. Department of Commerce introduced a second Tech Hubs Notice of Funding Opportunity, permitting these Tech Hubs to apply for implementation funding ranging from $40 million to $70 million, totaling nearly $500 million.