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Blog | 4 min read

Greater Richmond earns national recognition as a Build Back Better Life Sciences awardee

September 29, 2022

Build Back Better Regional Challenge Awardees

Earlier this month, President Biden announced Greater Richmond, Virginia, was awarded $52.9 million as a winner of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge for Biotechnology and Health. The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster, a collaborative effort led by Activation Capital and several Greater Richmond-based organizations including the Greater Richmond Partnership, will use the award to boost pharmaceutical manufacturing in Virginia.

Build Back Better Regional Challenge Awardees

As a founding member, Greater Richmond Partnership President + CEO Jennifer Wakefield serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance.

Here are four ways President Biden’s $52.9 million award will aid the region in strengthening its position as a hub for Life Sciences:

Funding for wet lab space

Greater Richmond is brimming with Life Sciences companies that utilize both wet and dry lab space. Attracting additional pharmaceutical companies to the area will require more lab space, something President Biden’s award will help fund. A portion of the $52.9 million will be used as an investment in wet lab space along a new pharmaceutical manufacturing corridor in Virginia’s capital region.

Wet lab space is a critical need for many companies in the pharmaceutical industry and a burgeoning manufacturing corridor not only allows Greater Richmond to welcome new business, but it also improves access to medicine and affordability for all.

Access to Market + Location Affordability

One of Greater Richmond’s key differentiators is its affordability. Building costs, labor and the cost of living is more affordable in Greater Richmond than in competing mid-sized metros. Now, pharmaceuticals and overall health care will also become more affordable.

Alliance for Building Better Medicine logo

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge award will help fund the Alliance for Building Better Medicines, the collaborative effort aimed at reshoring pharmaceutical manufacturing in Central Virginia. By bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the U.S., companies will save on production costs and consumers will save when purchasing new medicine.

Additional Resources + Partnerships

The 22 higher education institutions found in Greater Richmond are both innovative and highly invested in collaboration, often creating partnerships with local businesses for employee training and more. President Biden’s award will encourage further partnerships between local colleges and universities and businesses in the region.

For example, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Virginia State University (VSU) will collaborate to prepare underserved residents for jobs in pharmaceuticals. Plus, Brightpoint Community College and Reynolds Community College, coordinating through the Community College Workforce Alliance, will offer advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and laboratory technician training. But resources and partnerships from the EDA’s award will not stop there.

The $52.9 million funding will aid the development of a Richmond-Petersburg corridor where pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution can occur at more affordable rates. The corridor will allow for the easy transfer of active ingredients and additional resources thanks to new partnerships between companies and universities found between Greater Richmond and Petersburg.

Diverse workforce pipeline

Greater Richmond is home to a diverse population of more than 1.3 million people and a workforce of 675,240 individuals from across the Richmond MSA. The region is more diverse than other mid-sized metros with 45 percent of the population and 36 percent of the workforce being non-white. Richmond attracts nearly 10,000 new residents per year seeking a diverse and inclusive location to live, work, learn and play.

The BBBRC award provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce EDA will only enhance Greater Richmond’s ability to serve diverse populations. As mentioned previously, the award will help establish a new collaboration between VCU and VSU that will pave the way for minority students to receive high-quality training for jobs in pharmaceuticals.

Greater Richmond for Life Sciences

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge funding will prove invaluable to Greater Richmond’s Life Sciences scene. With the $52.9 million award, Greater Richmond can expect a boost in its diverse workforce pipeline, increased wet lab space and further access to affordable resources and medicines thanks to newly formed partnerships.

Learn about Life Sciences in Greater Richmond