Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), the region’s largest tech investor, just won a $633,555 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support the development of a new life sciences innovation cluster.

The grant will be matched with more than $600,000 in funds from BFTP and its local partners and will support the development of the Greater Philadelphia Regional Integrated Medicine Alliance (PRIMA) network, a virtual partnership designed to bolster the region’s biotech and pharmaceutical technology ecosystem. In total, the EDA grant will result in nearly $1.3 million in seed funding for small companies and research institutions working to bring new technologies and therapies to market.

“This investment will help implement a technical assistance program designed to create a virtual network of resources for early-stage life sciences businesses and will accelerate the commercialization of novel technologies,” U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development John Fleming said in a statement.

PRIMA expands on previous BFTP initiatives like Ben Franklin FabNet, a partnership network that provides matching funds for regional companies in need of prototyping and design facilities and services. The new initiative is unique in that it functions like a typical incubator or accelerator, providing innovators with funding and resources, but it has no physical home.

“Lots of other cities have life sciences incubators, but we wanted to create something unique in Philadelphia and we didn’t want to have to worry about building a building. So, the idea that this is virtual makes perfect sense,” said Anthony Green, BFTP’s vice president of technology commercialization.

Read the full article here.

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