University of Notre Dame

07/10/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/10/2024 06:08

Biotech hub that includes Notre Dame awarded $51M in CHIPS Act funding

Biotech hub that includes Notre Dame awarded $51M in CHIPS Act funding

Published:July 10, 2024

Author:Brett Beasley

ND Experts

Paul Bohn

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Nitesh Chawla

Computer Science and Engineering

Funding will support a range of projects - from attracting new workers to jobs in the innovation space to helping early-stage innovators surmount cost barriers to accessing product development facilities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and its Economic Development Administration have announced $51 million in federal funding to support the implementation of a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub that includes the University of Notre Dame among its members. Called Heartland BioWorks, the hub is led by the Applied Research Institute and aims to enhance Indiana's capacity to make and deploy life-saving medicines. 

Jeffrey F. Rhoads, vice president for research and professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at Notre Dame, said, "Heartland BioWorks' new grant is exciting news for Indiana and the Midwest writ large. Every dollar will go toward establishing our region as a national and international leader in biotechnology and biomanufacturing. The University of Notre Dame could not be more proud to join together with the esteemed research institutions and industry partners helping to build an unparalleled innovation ecosystem and talent pipeline here in our state."

Rhoads added, "We are especially pleased that through Heartland BioWorks, Notre Dame is able to contribute its expertise in data, bioengineering and the life sciences while also driving economic and workforce development throughout the Midwest."

Nitesh Chawla, the Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and founding director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society, serves as Notre Dame's lead on the BioWorks Hub.

Chawla said, "We have an established track record for bringing the latest data science and AI techniques to advance innovations in biotechnology and biomanufacturing and benefit human health. We have also developed educational and training programming, including internship and experiential learning opportunities for our students, and workforce development. Contributing these strengths to the BioWorks effort is a way for us to ensure we are producing breakthroughs that create benefits for society."

Nitesh Chawla, the Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and founding director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society, serves as Notre Dame's lead on the BioWorks Hub.

Other major Notre Dame contributors to BioWorks so far include Paul Bohn, the Arthur J. Schmitt Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of Notre Dame's Bioengineering & Life Sciences (BELS) Initiative; Valya Kuskova, professor of the practice and associate director at the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society; and Gina Svarovsky, an associate professor of the practice and faculty director of Notre Dame's Center for Broader Impacts.

Last October, Heartland BioWorks was one of 31 regional hubs chosen for Tech Hub designation by the Department of Commerce. It is now one of 12 hubs chosen to split $500 million in funding that stems from the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which was co-authored by Indiana's U.S. Sen. Todd Young.

Heartland BioWorks stated that the funding will support projects to:

  • Attract and connect workers, including those historically excluded from the innovation workforce, to good jobs. 

  • Establish a formal network to provide navigation resources, mentorship and greater access to facilities and venture capital funding to help innovators successfully scale and launch their bioproducts in the region. 

  • Construct BioWorks HQ, a training and demonstration facility for trainees to enter the workforce and for current employees to grow.  

  • Implement a grant program to help early-stage innovators surmount cost barriers to accessing these product development facilities, keeping biotech inventions and supply in the U.S.

  • Develop training pathways, leveraging curricula from Indiana's higher education institutions and other globally recognized training programs to prepare participants for high-quality jobs in biomanufacturing operator and lab technician roles once the BioWorks HQ is constructed.

In addition to the University of Notre Dame, Heartland BioWorks members include Eli Lilly, Elanco, Corteva, INCOG BioPharma Services, Roche, Indiana University, Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College. To learn more about Heartland BioWorks, visit pathfinder.theari.us/heartlandbioworks.

Contact: Brett Beasley, writer and editorial program manager, Notre Dame Research, [email protected], 574-631-8183; research.nd.edu, @UNDResearch

Originally published by Brett Beasleyat research.nd.eduon July 8.

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