The Baltimore area was chosen Monday as one of 31 federal tech hubs, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to make the region part of a national effort to advance America’s tech industry through competitive grants.

The Baltimore tech hub will focus on the combination of artificial intelligence and biotechnology — what’s been dubbed “predictive healthcare” — to use artificial intelligence on health data to improve outcomes, clinical decision-making and produce new therapies and drugs. The Baltimore region effort is now eligible for nearly $500 million in federal funds over five years that the Greater Baltimore Committee estimates will generate $3.2 billion in economic impact and 52,000 jobs by 2030.

The tech hubs, authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, will be located across 32 states and Puerto Rico — in both urban and rural regions, according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

President Joe Biden and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo made the announcement Monday. They were introduced by Greater Baltimore Committee President Mark Anthony, who spearheaded bringing together economic organizations, academic institutions, local startups and corporations as part of a 38-member consortium.

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Members of the Baltimore consortium that applied for the federal tech hub designation. (Penelope Blackwell)

“Over the next decade, we envisioned the economic impact could be staggering,” he said. “We found ourselves a real partner in this endeavor.

“Baltimore is poised to become one of the world’s top biotech and artificial intelligence hubs,” he said, and many communities are now set to become economic powerhouses.

Six consortium representatives, which included the Greater Baltimore Committee; Fearless, a Baltimore-based digital services company; Conscious Venture Labs, an early-stage business accelerator; and university leaders from Johns Hopkins, Morgan State and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, gathered downtown to highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s investment in innovation and economic growth in the city and for all regions of the U.S.

Pothik Chatterjee, the chief economic officer of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said he thought that the initial challenge was shifting the mindset of Baltimore’s institutions from competition toward “unified abundance” by working together, adding that market data determined which technology area on which the consortium would focus its efforts.

“I was really pleasantly surprised at how quickly that shift happened. We worked really hard with weekly workshops where we did our ideation,” Chatterjee said. “Out of the 10 technology areas that we could have selected, we selected AI and biotech, because we looked at the data. And we saw that’s a fast-growing market, not just in Baltimore, but globally,” Chatterjee said.

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“We have a lot of diversity in backgrounds of our consortium members. So not just racially or just gender-wise, but also in terms of expertise. We have rural, we have agriculture, manufacturing, bio manufacturing, urban players — just a full spectrum of healthcare and technology expertise. And that’s why I think we’ve won,” he added.

Partners hail from Cecil, Harford, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard and Queen Anne’s counties in addition to Baltimore City.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said the designation will accelerate the growing tech industry the region has been nurturing for years.

“Our city is excited about the opportunities to create more jobs, continue transforming our region’s economy, and help make the tech revolution an equitable one,” Scott said in a statement.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski added in a statement that he was “confident that this designation will help provide the support, resources, and opportunities we need to create jobs, grow communities, and transform the entire Baltimore region into an innovative hub that creates the tools of tomorrow.”

penelope.blackwell@thebaltimorebanner.com

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News/Accountability reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. 

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