TMC plans to build a huge distribution and bioproduction center

Texas Medical Center plans to build a 500-acre medical supply and bioproduction distribution center in Houston, a project that represents the latest push to establish the city as a major life sciences hub.

The new campus, called TMC BioPort, is still in the early stages of development. But when completed, it is expected to double the overall size of the medical center and create 100,000 jobs for Greater Houston residents, TMC President and CEO Bill McKeon said.

In recent years, the medical center has focused on expanding its presence in the life sciences ecosystem through projects such as TMC Innovation and TMC Helix Park. McKeon sees TMC BioPort as a natural evolution of that strategy; the campus could house the manufacturing and distribution of cell and gene therapies, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

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“We really think this is the last missing piece of this largest life science ecosystem in the country,” McKeon said in an interview Wednesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the risk of being dependent on overseas manufacturing, as many hospitals have struggled to protect personal protective equipment and other critical supplies. Having manufacturing and distribution in Houston would help the region, as well as other areas of the country, avoid similar problems in the future, McKeon said.

“We have to have these things in the United States and being the largest medical city in the world, we are the largest user of supplies,” McKeon said. “It becomes even more of a fundamental thing to solve.”

Having an easily obtainable supply of medical supplies nearby would be a significant boon to hospitals that struggled to procure them during the pandemic, said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine.

Additionally, Klotman said the new campus will bolster manufacturing in Houston so that pharmaceuticals and other health products developed by scientists working at the medical center could be made locally.

“It makes all the economic sense in the world that the city of Houston and our region are competitive in producing biomedical supplies,” said Klotman.

The TMC BioPort campus would be located on a piece of land near the intersection of Buffalo Speedway and Holmes Road, just west of the Wildcat Golf Club, a few miles southwest of the main medical center campus.

The medical center is under contract to purchase the land, which is currently owned by multiple owners, McKeon said. Declined him to identify the owners or discuss the potential sale price while negotiations are underway.

While development is in the early stages, McKeon predicted that the TMC BioPort buildings could be under construction within two years. The medical center must first invest in infrastructure for the property, which McKeon says could cost $ 100 million.

Elkus Manfredi Architects, the Boston-based studio that designed TMC Helix Park, is also developing the master plan for TMC BioPort.

The estimated 100,000 new jobs to be created on campus by the consulting firm Economic & Planning Systems wouldn’t be just for people with PhDs, McKeon said. The new campus will include a workforce training center with the intention of offering jobs to students who are leaving high school.

“These are really great careers that you could have for the rest of your life,” McKeon said.

The medical center refused to provide a copy of the economic and planning systems report that TMC BioPort has added 100,000 jobs, saying it contains proprietary information.

McKeon revealed the medical center’s plans for TMC BioPort at the annual State of the TMC event Tuesday afternoon, hosted by The Greater Houston Partnership.

Houston has been identified as an emerging life sciences market in recent years; real estate and investment services firm CBRE has identified the city as the No. 1 emerging life sciences cluster. 2 in the United States in a 2020 report. Projects like TMC BioPort add to the city’s market growth and help diversify Houston’s regional economy, Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey said at the event. Tuesday.

“This is truly an exciting opportunity for Houston,” said Harvey.

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The medical center was established in 1945 and has since grown to be the largest in the world. It now hosts 61 member institutions serving a total of 10 million patients annually.

Its expansion into the life sciences ecosystem began in earnest with TMC Innovation, which opened in 2015 in the space of the former Nabisco Cookie Factory on the corner of Holcombe and Alameda. TMC Innovation hosts acceleration programs designed to help healthcare startups bring their products to market.

Then came TMC Helix Park, a 37-acre biomedical research campus formerly known as TMC3. The campus, located between Brays Bayou and Old Spanish Trail, is designed to encourage collaboration between researchers, scientists and businesses. TMC Helix Park led the way in 2020; its TMC3 multi-institutional collaborative building is expected to be completed in 2023.

TMC BioPort aims to complement the life sciences ecosystem in Houston. In the past, therapeutic products and other health products created on the main campus of the medical center or at TMC Innovation and TMC Helix Park should have been produced elsewhere in the U.S. TMC BioPort could help maintain that manufacturing in Houston, McKeon said.

“We are creating new therapies and you don’t want to have to send them to other parts of the country [when] we should be able to develop them, “McKeon said.” … It was really important for us to really put in all the key pieces that would further advance and accelerate this life science ecosystem. “

evan.macdonald@chron.com

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