Sen. Duey Stroebel says he’s seeing bipartisan support for a bill that would provide $7.5 million in state matching funds for the Wisconsin BioHealth Tech Hub effort.
The Saukville Republican and Rep. Amanda Nedweski, R-Pleasant Prairie, recently sent a co-sponsorship memo to lawmakers on the proposal. It would authorize the funding for BioForward Wisconsin, the lead member of the consortium that successfully applied for federal tech hub designation under the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program.
“We want to ensure that the federal dollars that we sent to Washington will come back to Wisconsin in the form of economic development, helping our state grow as a national and global leader in the biohealth industry,” Stroebel said in a statement.
The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 provided $10 billion for the program over five years, and the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act added another $500 million to launch the program, the memo shows. The state’s biohealth tech hub consortium was one of 31 to receive federal designation and one of 29 to get strategy development funding.
That additional funding “will enable the consortium to further develop its regional strategy for scaling up the manufacture, commercialization and deployment of critical technologies in personalized medicine,” lawmakers wrote in the memo.
Meanwhile, BioForward CEO Lisa Johnson says the Madison-based organization supports the legislation, and has been working with lawmakers “to advance these bills because it is critically important to demonstrate our state’s commitment to long term economic success by supporting key Wisconsin industries like Wisconsin’s biohealth industry.”
The Wisconsin BioHealth Tech Hub can now apply for an implementation grant to put its plan in motion, which would provide between $50 million and $75 million for up to eight projects, according to the memo. As part of its Phase 2 application, the consortium will secure an additional $4 million to $7 million in private matching funds, the lawmakers note.
Johnson argues providing the $7.5 million in matching funds would send “a clear, strategic message” to the U.S. Economic Development Agency and the nation overall.
“Wisconsin is ready to compete, and the state is rallying behind this Phase 2 application,” she told WisBusiness.com. “Our state government understands the urgency of advancing these bills quickly so that this state funding commitment can be included in the Phase 2 application prior to the deadline of February 29th, 2024.”
Stroebel said he’s optimistic the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers will move to approve the matching funds by that deadline.
Along with the state dollars, the bill would also require BioForward and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — another consortium member — to annually report to the Legislature on uses of state funding over the next three years.
And the legislation designates three projects that state dollars would support if the tech hub effort results in federal grant funding.
One of these would establish a clinical workflow and supply chain support center for image-guided therapies and “theranostics,” a method for diagnosing and treating cancers using radioactive materials.
Another would build new and expanded shared lab space at Forward Biolabs as well as related programming and support. The third would create a program supporting apprenticeship efforts by manufacturers and supply chain companies in the state.
Learn more about the tech hub effort in a recent podcast with BioForward Wisconsin CEO Lisa Johnson: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2023/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-lisa-johnson-bioforward-wisconsin-4/