Baltimore City Applies to Be a Federal Tech Hub

Baltimore City entered a national competition to become the next federal tech hub, which could bring as many as 52,000 jobs to the area.

Baltimore City is throwing its name into the ring to become the next Silicon Valley. A consortium led by the Greater Baltimore Committee is applying to become one of 20 or more cities or regions chosen for the federal Tech Hubs Program.

The Baltimore Sun reported:

Baltimore-area leaders aim to be in the running to become a national tech hub similar to Silicon Valley or Boston as the city competes for a federal designation and billions of dollars in funding.

Baltimore’s group describes its hub as focusing on the intersection of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, an area still in the early stages of adoption. It refers to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning on health data for applications such as diagnostics and drug development.

The consortium says the area is primed to combine artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomy with biotech, medical technology, genomics and synthetic biology, and to commercialize technologies that can improve health at the individual, community and national levels.

The Tech Hubs Program is an economic development initiative to drive regional technology- and innovation-centric growth by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy critical technologies. This program will invest directly in regions with the assets, resources, capacity, and potential to transform into globally competitive innovation centers in approximately 10 years while creating good jobs for American workers at all skill levels, equitably and inclusively.

It was enacted as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (as the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program). The statute authorized $10 billion for the program over five years. As part of the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress appropriated EDA $500 million to launch the program.

The federal Economic Development Agency (EDA) oversees the program. The EDA defines a Tech Hub’s geography as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or a similar area (including Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs) or tightly interconnected combinations of MSAs and/or μSAs) with a concentration of assets, capital, R&D, labor market, and infrastructure strongly relevant to the Hub’s selected core technology area, the Hub’s identified market opportunity, and its potential to become globally competitive in that given sector, industry, and/or area within a decade. Applicants should identify their chosen geography as part of their application. Consortia may include assets or members outside their chosen geography—e.g., in nonmetro-rural areas or partnerships with geographically distant but tightly mission-aligned organizations—that support the consortium’s strategy and benefit the Tech Hub.

What’s on the line?

Over five years, an estimated $500 million is expected to generate $3.2 billion in economic impact and 52,000 jobs by 2030 in Baltimore City and seven surrounding counties.

Process and timeline

Phase One of the Tech Hubs Program closed in August: EDA will designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the country and will separately award approximately $15 million in strategy development grants to accelerate the development of future Tech Hubs. The Tech Hubs designation will be a widely recognized indicator of a region’s potential for rapid technology-led economic growth.

In Phase 2, EDA will make at least five implementation awards to designated EDA Tech Hubs. Only Tech Hubs that EDA designates during Phase 1 are eligible to apply for Phase 2. The Phase 2 application is expected to be released this fall.