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Baltimore City joins bidding war to attract Biden's new biomedical research agency to the city

NIH Headquarters
Posted at 1:10 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 14:03:35-04

Baltimore City is pitting itself against states and cities nationwide in an effort to attract a new federal science agency to come here.

The ARPA-H (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health) is a new agency billed by the Biden administration to "support transformative high-risk, high-reward research to drive biomedical and health breakthroughs" - a new way to support research into cancer, Alzheimer's, infectious diseases and other ailments.

The U.S. Senate has yet to approve the funding for it, but Mayor Brandon Scott announced today that he wants Baltimore to put its bid in to attract ARPA-H to the city.

Scott's spokesman noted: "This is a voluntary coalition and we do not anticipate any significant direct expenses to purse APRA-H.Once more details are known on the site requirements, incentives can then be evaluated. Baltimore believes that the availability of talent for ARPA-H – leaders that have experience working for and managing very large federal programs – is our greatest strength and makes us a competitive location. NIH has not released the specific requirements for ARPA-H in terms of square footage nor have they provided a number of employees or researchers. We only know the budget at this point."

The mayor is charging Baltimore Development Corporation with creating a coalition to attract the agency to put down roots here. Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of BDC, said in a statement: “Our deep legacy and ongoing leadership in health care innovation, longstanding partnerships with federal agencies, combined with our affordable, strategic location in the Mid-Atlantic and easy access by rail, air, and highway, makes Baltimore an ideal place to locate ARPA-H and its employees. As part of our work on the city’s comprehensive economic development strategy, Baltimore Together, we’ve identified ways to further promote and support life sciences in Baltimore and welcome this collaborative approach to bring ARPA-H to the city.”

Scott said he hopes ARPA-H could bring more "jobs, investment, and innovation to Baltimore.”

Places including Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas have already made their case to try to get ARPA-H to choose them. Meanwhile, there has been some controversy about the billion-dollar new agency existing at all; the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology criticized the focus on creating the agency, saying it will severely affect the NIH budget.