Sep 26, 2023 - Business

Newest federal agency ARPA-H picks Cambridge for new hub

An aerial view of Cambridge and the Charles River. Photo: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The federal government named Cambridge as one of three sites to comprise the newest federal agency, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Driving the news: Hadley-based nonprofit VentureWell will run the Massachusetts "investor catalyst hub," state officials announced Tuesday.

  • The Cambridge site will focus on helping ARPA-H programs deal with red tape and bring innovative ideas to market.

Why it matters: The announcement marks a big win for Boston's biotech economy and state leaders who spent more than a year lobbying the federal government in hopes the location would make Massachusetts more competitive to industry workers.

The big picture: The new $2.5 billion agency is tasked with making breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer's and other diseases.

What they're saying: "We have an unprecedented opportunity to spark revolutionary progress in health care and continue to lead in the life sciences industry through this partnership with ARPA-H," Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao said in a statement.

Flashback: President Biden announced plans to create ARPA-H last year, modeled after the defense research agency DARPA, and appointed Boston biotech executive Renee Wegrzyn as its leader.

Details: ARPA-H's administrative operations will be based in the Washington, D.C. region, near its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it will also launch a "customer experience" hub in Dallas.

  • ARPA-H plans to follow a "hub-and-spoke" model to bring in cutting-edge research, meaning 10 research institutions nationwide will work with the hubs.

What we're watching: In a statement, Wegrzyn described the endeavor as "an ambitious 50 state network," but did not specify how other states would be involved.

  • Nor did officials explain how much funding host states would receive, per the Globe.

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