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Healthcare

Dallas Lands $2.5 Billion Federal Biotech and Life Science Hub

After two years of campaigning, Pegasus Park will be home to the consumer experience arm of ARPA-H, an independent federal agency focused on solving the most difficult health challenges.
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Pegasus Park, home to a major U.S. biotech initiative. Pegasus Park

Dallas will be home to one of three regional hubs for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, a new federal agency established by the Biden administration to accelerate health outcomes by developing high-impact solutions to challenging health issues. The announcement reflects North Texas’ growing reputation as a national biotech and life science development leader.

Earlier this year, the agency announced it would choose three locations to serve as regional hubs, and ARPA-H announced Tuesday that Dallas would be home to the Customer Experience Hub to support the $2.5 billion independent federal agency. The announcement comes after two years of statewide collaboration between universities, industries, and other partners in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio to bring biomedical science and research opportunities to the Lone Star State. Advanced Technology International will operate the space as the hub’s consortium management firm.

Pegasus Park will host the agency, turning ARPA-H investment and research into real-world adoption and clinical trials in the name of improving health outcomes. “This will put Dallas on the map as an alternative to Boston and Silicon Valley and help grow the industry to diversify the Texas economy,” said Tom Luce, the Lyda Hill Philanthropies CEO for Biotech Initiatives, who helped lead the effort to bring the agency to Dallas. “The agency will be working to turn research into changing health outcomes.”

Over the last two years, Luce and his team made presentations, hosted federal officials for site visits, lobbied Congress, and worked to persuade ARPA-H to make Texas its home. Dallas will join Washington D.C. and Boston as other ARPA-H hubs, with D.C. handling stakeholder engagement and operations. Boston will focus on investment capital for the biotech industry.

The hub will be built into existing space at Pegasus Park. It will include immersive experiences, testing of self-administered diagnostics, simulated patient care scenarios, development of health-tech devices, patient listening sessions, and more.

“North Texas is home to the best and brightest researchers and innovators, and Dallas being chosen as the site of the ARPA-H Customer Experience Hub shows we can still do big things when we work together as Texans,” said Congressman Colin Allred, D-Dallas, who worked to bring the hub to Dallas. “Today’s announcement further solidifies our region as a national leader in health care research and groundbreaking new treatments. This Hub will also bring great jobs and supercharge economic development in an area where we are already growing.”

Pegasus Park is already the beating heart of Dallas’ biotech industry, with a 26-acre and 750,000-square-foot campus renovated in 2020 to host a biotech and life sciences development, a social impact hub, commercial tenants, and entertainment and dining venues. It is home to biotech accelerator BioLabs’ only non-coastal location, and UT Southwestern and Healthcare Wildcatters have also moved into the space. There is a $110 million, 135,000-square-foot Bridge Labs facility heading to the development, offering lab suites and flexible space for life science companies.

“Pegasus Park is uniquely equipped to support ARPA-H’s success, as it currently is located within the medical district alongside first-class hospitals and entities dedicated to advancing science and technology and producing improved health outcomes and social impacts,” said Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett, who helped lead the delegation to make the case for Pegasus Park to be home to ARPA-H.

ATI began as a project to help the Department of Defense execute research and prototypes and is now built to lead and manage federal technology research and development collaborations. It will move into the Pegasus Park space, onboard new members, foster engagement in the healthcare system, manage how innovators interact with ARPA-H, and distribute funds to accomplish the agency’s mission.

Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio will also work with ARPA-H, offering the support of its universities and healthcare network. San Antonio will lead the initiative Immersive Experience Design because of its diverse population, health challenges, and collaborative healthcare and biotech industry. The hub aims to create accessible solutions while taking on some of the most challenging healthcare problems like cancer, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, equity, and cost containment.

“By using a hub-and-spoke model, we’re creating efficiencies that we could not otherwise achieve, including reaching patients, providers, and other stakeholders quickly,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn. “With a nod to the history of DARPA’s original ARPANET that eventually became the internet, we are establishing the foundation for an ambitious 50-state network to support health innovation across the entire nation.” 

The growth of Texas’ university research prowess and infrastructural support of the biotech industry has put the state on an upward trajectory of late. Dallas was recognized by commercial real estate giant CBRE as an emerging life science market and has a growing presence in the life science talent pipeline. UT Southwestern, TCU’s medical school, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center partner well with other local universities to provide a talent pipeline. Earlier this week, ARPA-H announced a $45 million grant to a research team led by Omid Veiseh, a bioengineer at Rice University.

“They clearly were impressed with Pegasus Park,” Luce says of the federal decision-makers. “We made a case about the diversity of the population in the state reflecting that of the future of the country. If you’re going to impact the health outcomes of Americans, you’re going to have to change how that goes in Texas.”

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Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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