Speaker Shekarchi introduces legislation to create life science hub
STATE HOUSE – House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi yesterday introduced legislation to create a life science hub in Rhode Island. The legislation (2023-H 6426) would create a new quasi-public corporate body and agency of the state for the express purpose of acting as the central entity and coordinating organization of life science initiatives on behalf of the state.
The Governor’s proposed FY24 budget includes investing $45 million into the life sciences sector for the development of much-needed wet lab incubator spaces. Funds would also be used to support grants, loans, business development and incubation services to grow this sector.
“Rhode Island already has so much of the knowledge needed to make our state a hub for the life sciences: world-class learning institutions and hospitals, which will be key partners in this effort,” said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “The Governor has included funding to jump-start our efforts in the proposed FY24 budget, and we’re looking forward to the development of new lab space in Providence. This bill creates the entity to facilitate our efforts and catalyze our life science industries. We have seen our neighbors in adjacent states create similar entities; just in Worcester, the biotech cluster has created more than 1,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than one billion dollars. There is no reason Rhode Island cannot become a leader in the bio and life sciences. The workforce development in this industry will help our state retain graduates of our fantastic colleges and universities, which will, in turn, bolster our economy and attract new, high-paying jobs.”
The quasi-public entity would be known as the Rhode Island Life Sciences Hub (RILSH) and would evaluate and potentially invest in Rhode Island-based companies in the life sciences sector that meet vigorous eligibility criteria and promote economic growth and workforce development. It would aim to strengthen the life science sector in Rhode Island and encourage collaboration and innovation among public, private, and academic institutions.
RILSH would be governed by a board of directors composed of highly experienced and dynamic leaders representing life sciences, healthcare, academia, and state government.
In addition to Speaker Shekarchi, the legislation is sponsored by House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket), House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman (D-Dist.45, Cumberland, Lincoln), Deputy House Speaker Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, North Providence, Providence), House Majority Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), House Corporations Committee Chairman Joseph J. Solomon, Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), and House Innovation, Internet and Technology Committee Chairwoman Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston).
The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.