Wisconsin’s Drive for $75M Towards Personalized Medicine Innovation


Phase 2 EDA Tech Hub Funding Application Fueled by Collaboration

Lisa Johnson

BioForward CEO
BioForward CEO

Wendy Harris

Regional Innovation Officer for the Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub.
Regional Innovation Officer for the Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub.

Madison, Wisconsin, Feb. 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Following Wisconsin’s designation as a Regional Technology and Innovations Hub (Tech Hub) from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) last October, the Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub submitted its Phase 2 application seeking $75 million in funds to support six interconnected projects designed to transform the State of Wisconsin into a global leader in biohealth innovation and personalized medicine.

The Projects:

  • Wisconsin Health Data Hub- aims to establish a cyber-secure repository of expansive health data, fueling innovation and reducing the cost and time required to bring new therapies to market. Led by UW-Madison.
  • CAREScan Mobile Screening Center- addresses health disparities by deploying mobile cancer screening fleets in underserved communities, collecting valuable biomarker data, and advancing health equity. Led by Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • Image-Guided Therapy Data-Centric Patient Care Pathway- streamlines the integration of new technologies into healthcare systems, supporting the growth of theranostics and driving innovation in personalized medicine. Led by GE HealthCare.
  • Advancing Innovation to Commercialization- bridges the gap between invention and market deployment, providing critical support for entrepreneurs and moving innovations closer to market readiness. Led by BioForward Wisconsin.
  • Actualizing Biohealth Career Pathways- ensures a skilled workforce to sustain sector growth through expanded certification programs, apprenticeships, and skills-based training, creating inclusive talent pipelines aligned with employer demands. Led by Madison College and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
  • Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub Governance- nurtures collaboration across projects, tracks metrics, and shares learnings, reinforcing the cycle of innovation and deployment. Led by BioForward.

“Receiving the Tech Hub designation was just the beginning,” explains Wendy Harris, Regional Innovation Officer for the Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub. “It recognizes Wisconsin’s strengths in personalized medicine, biohealth technology, and precision manufacturing. Now, as we seek funding to drive growth and innovation while safeguarding national security, witnessing Wisconsin companies come together is an amazing testimony to our collaborative spirit and our ability to succeed as a unified force.”

The consortium, led by BioForward Wisconsin, is comprised of Wisconsin businesses, education institutions, civic leaders and entrepreneurs that applied for, and secured, the Tech Hub designation, an essential first step that created the opportunity to apply for Phase 2 funding. Only the 31 EDA designated Tech Hubs could apply for Phase 2 funding.

“We are now competing against the 30 other Tech Hub regions in the country for Phase 2 funding,” said BioForward CEO, Lisa Johnson. “We are excited about the opportunity as we launch our state to become a global tech hub in personalized medicine due to our highly ranked research institutions, high growth biohealth industry and a robust manufacturing ecosystem.”

The projects will concentrate on personalized medicine, merging genomic innovation, advanced imaging, big data analytics, and bioscience breakthroughs to tailor treatments to individual patient needs, while democratizing health data access and addressing cancer care disparities.

“Wisconsin’s strong foundation in biotechmanufacturing, data science, and healthcare sets the stage for future advancements,” stated Dr. Mara Lord, Senior Vice President, University Engagement and Strategic Planning and Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin. “With funding, we’ll invest in groundbreaking technologies, enhance manufacturing, and deploy advanced medical solutions, driving equitable growth and innovation for generations to come.”

“Wisconsin is a state of innovators. We have second-to-none workers, a thriving private sector, and a strong of manufacturing sector, and bringing a Tech Hub to Wisconsin will help us continue that legacy into the future. Wisconsin’s application shows that spirit of innovation and how well our state is positioned to lead the world in biohealth and personalized medicine, creating new technologies that will improve access to affordable care, better diagnose and treat patients, and save lives,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to have helped bring a Tech Hub home to Wisconsin, and now I’m calling on the Biden administration to deliver the funding we need to execute it. Make no mistake, Wisconsin’s Tech Hub has the potential to create good-paying jobs in an expanding sector, create more opportunities for our businesses, and grow our economy. I applaud Wisconsin’s strong application and collaboration and am committed to making this Tech Hub a reality.”

Implemented as part of the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and championed by Sen. Baldwin, the Tech Hub designation recognizes Wisconsin’s existing strength in personalized medicine, biohealth technology, precision manufacturing and automation and its capabilities for exponential growth and innovation.

Since achieving the Tech Hub designation, the consortium has:

  • Hired a Regional Innovation Officer, Wendy Harris
  • Added new consortium members including The Medical College of Wisconsin, Forward BIOLABS, and University Research Park
  • Secured bipartisan support from the State of Wisconsin, led by bill sponsors Senator Duey Stroebel and State Representative Amanda Nedweski, Amanda Nedweski, with tech hub legislation signed by Governor Evers allocating $7.5 million in grant funding to BioForward
  • Hosted focus groups and interviews with employers regarding industry needs and trends
  • Added investment commitments and partners in both the public and private sector

The WI Biohealth Tech Hub will be based in Milwaukee-Waukesha and Madison MSA’s but will have statewide impact involving technology, workforce, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship.  The consortium estimates the initiatives outlined in Phase 2 will directly create over 30,000 new jobs, with an additional 111,000 indirect jobs, over the next ten years. It also has the potential to unlock billions in regional gross domestic product.

“Wisconsin has the opportunity to lead a transformative era in healthcare, improving both the health of our citizens and the vibrancy of our economy,” asserted Aaron Olver, Managing Director of University Research Park. “Our vision includes building on Wisconsin’s manufacturing heritage, fortifying healthcare supply chains, reducing our foreign dependence, and increasing economic resilience.”

About the Consortium
The Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub is anchored by a coalition the state has never seen. Civic leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, and healthcare giants have come together to ensure the Hub harnesses the region’s assets, ingenuity, and collaboration to create a healthier, more equitable and prosperous future for Wisconsinites. BioForward is the lead consortium member responsible for the application and reporting requirements. Other consortium members include: Accuray, Employ Milwaukee, Exact Sciences, Forward BIOLABS, GE HealthCare, Madison College, Madison Region Econ. Partnership (MadREP), Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 7 (M7), Milwaukee Area Technical College, Plexus, Rockwell Automation, Universities of Wisconsin, UW-Madison, University Research Park, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and WRTP| Big Step.

About BioForward
BioForward Wisconsin represents more than 230 member organizations across an integrated network of health solution leaders, including research institutions, biotech and biopharma, digital health, healthcare systems, and medical device, and diagnostics. It is an action-oriented association that focuses on initiatives to strengthen the state’s biohealth industry.

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