An ambitious initiative to secure Texas as a coveted headquarter site for an ARPA-H (The Advanced Research Project Agency for Health) nationwide program has fostered a team effort by three major Texas cities. Austin, Dallas and San Antonio have formed a consortium to partner with a Consortium Management Firm who will submit the application. The collaboration between the three cities has been in place for a year and a half and recently submitted their response to ARPH-H’s RFP (request for proposal) to consider Texas as one of the Agency’s three national headquarter/hub sites. The group has earned support from the rest of Texas including College Station, El Paso, Houston, Rio Grande Valley, and West Texas regions.
ARPA-H, a new government agency and independent entity within the National Institutes of Health, aims to advance high-potential, high-impact biomedical and health research breakthroughs to deliver transformative, sustainable and equitable health solutions for all. Their plans were announced in mid-March to establish sites in three geographic locations across the U.S. to serve as a hub-and-spoke strategy in pursuit of forming a nationwide health network. Three different U.S. hubs will each have a network of partners (spokes) that will actively support the dynamic needs of ARPA-H programs and their mission to accelerate better health outcomes for the population.
Hub No. 1 will be in the National Capital Region and will focus on stakeholder engagement and operations. Hub No. 2 will be a customer experience hub and will drive user testing, adoption, access and trust of ARPA-H projects. Hub No. 3 will be an investor catalyst and will provide resources to help performers bring their ideas to market.
Texas is home to many impactful entities and businesses that range from small, large and non-traditional federal contractors. With a close proximity to an ARPA-H hub in Texas, the ability to capitalize on the neighboring potential funding source by providing nearby immersive experiences and influencing new program solicitations is expected to result in a significant benefit for Texas companies, institutions and residents.
Heather Hanson, President of BioMedSA, a non-profit dedicated to the growth of the healthcare and bioscience ecosystem in Central/South Texas, has been working on this initiative on behalf of San Antonio. “It makes sense for ARPA-H to put the customer experience hub in Texas, where San Antonio’s excellent R&D capabilities and focus on health disparities research can be close to an ARPA-H site to offer support and important connections, helping the new agency move its mission forward,” says Heather Hanson, President of BioMedSA. San Antonio is home to the largest military health complex in the nation, three national disease centers, and the only NIH National Primate Center with the highest level of biosafety laboratory. Healthcare and bioscience is the largest economic sector in San Antonio with an annual economic impact of over $44B, making San Antonio a strong contributor in the Texas hub.
The Austin Region is ranked as one of the top emerging markets for the life sciences with companies covering medical device, pharma, diagnostics, biotech, contract research/clinical trials. Anchored by the University of Texas, a Tier 1 Research University, with over 50 research units dedicated to the life sciences and partnered with Dell Medical School, companies enjoy access to advances in research and development. The Austin Region’s plentiful incubators and accelerators provide a catalyst for new technologies to grow in a collaborative environment. The University of Texas, Texas State University, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Austin Community College and Concordia University provide a critical pipeline for those entering the life sciences and healthcare fields adding to the over 76,000 employees in healthcare and 20,000 in life sciences. Charisse Bodisch, SVP Economic Development at Opportunity Austin stated, “The Austin assets are supplemented by having ARPA-H nearby, where innovation and healthcare are prevalent. An ARPA-H hub in Texas is fully supported given the level of biomedical activity throughout the state.”
The CMF has chosen to partner with the cities of Austin, Dallas and San Antonio to propose Pegasus Park in Dallas as the Texas site for Hub No. 2, which will focus on the customer experience program. The approach of Hub No. 2 is to proactively enhance clinical trials, reach representative patient populations, and capture outcomes data for future research. Pegasus Park has the appropriate space, ideal location, convenient transportation access, equipment needed, strong research network, support from influential entities and alignment of both political parties to accommodate the needs of the hub.
“Dallas is home to top-tier universities, corporate partners and investors, and premier healthcare systems with one of the best academic medical centers in the country for commercializing new biomedical technologies and providing exceptional care to patients,” says Tom Luce, CEO of Biotech Initiatives at Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “The city’s ability to attract scientists, entrepreneurs, and investment funds is hard to beat. Paired with Dallas’ emergence as a key hub for biotech and life sciences in the country, and Pegasus Park’s ability to offer existing flexible space and a convenient location to the city’s medical district and two airports, including the second largest international airport in the world, Dallas and the North Texas region add significant value towards Texas as an ARPA-H site location.”
The application identifies key criteria for consideration of the hub’s physical location such as: rotating office space to accommodate ARPA-H employees with room for growth; four to six conference rooms and collaborative spaces dedicated solely to ARPA-H; proximity to ARPA-H stakeholders and federal partner agencies for in-person collaboration; move-in ready; proximity to an airport that is accessible by public transportation and parking; and flexible co-working space that enables access to workspaces in other geographies to support remote ARPA-H workforce and activities. Through a Request for Consortium Agreement (RCA) for respondents to submit their proposal, ARPA-H will identify the locations’ capabilities that best serve its mission.
Pegasus Park is a 25-acre, 750,000 square-foot dynamic, future-focused campus in Dallas that completed full renovations in 2020 to feature four components including a biotech and life sciences hub, a social impact hub, commercial tenants, and entertainment and dining venues. Pegasus Park is located minutes from downtown Dallas and the medical district with convenient access to two major domestic and international airports, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport; DART light rail trains and buses; North Texas toll roads; and interstates. The campus features the state-of-the-art, 16,000 square-foot Convene Conference Center, a flexible function space for onsite conferences, corporate meetings, and social events with advanced WiFi capabilities and the latest advancements in audio + video technology.
The campus’ onsite 37,000 square-foot coworking laboratory and office facility for life science startups is equipped with state-of-the-art flexible lab, training and office space to serve as the epicenter for life science innovation. Six private labs, 90 open benches, lab space, office workstations, 11 conference room, reception area, microbiology suite, microscopy room, bioengineering suite, four tissue cultures suites can all be found in the facility as well as safety and standard lab equipment. BioLabs, headquartered in Cambridge, MA with innovation hubs across North America and Europe, is the key operator of the biotech laboratory and co-working facility and is the definitive growth partner for science-based entrepreneurs.
Other factors for the hub evaluation criteria include consideration of the prospective hub location’s beneficial characteristics to facilitate the advancement of ARPA-H’s goals and functions; depth and breadth of the hub-and-spoke network; the demonstration of detailed business and operational plans to support ARPA-H’s objectives and mission; and lastly, the cost and price realism and reasonableness for the hub.
The decision is projected to be made by early fall 2023.
About Pegasus Park
Pegasus Park is a 25-acre mixed-use office campus consisting of more than 750,000 square feet of office and amenities space across multiple buildings, including an 18-story office tower. The campus features four components - a biotech and life sciences hub, a social impact hub, commercial tenants, and entertainment/dining venues. Strategically located in the heart of the rapidly expanding Innovation District between the Dallas Design Center and the Southwestern Medical District in Dallas, the campus is positioned to be a premier hub of innovation.