Houston plans TMC BioPort to complete life-science hub

The Texas Medical Center is set to add a 500-acre biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution center to its life-sciences ecosystem

Texas Medical Center's Bill McKeon (Texas Medical Center)
Texas Medical Center's Bill McKeon (Texas Medical Center)

Houston is steadily establishing itself as a hub for life sciences.

The latest project — dubbed TMC BioPort — is expected to double the overall size of the Texas Medical Center. The planned 500-acre biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution center is still in the early stages of development, but the Houston Chronicle reports that it has the potential to solidify the city as a premier manufacturer of therapeutics and other health care products.

In an interview on Wednesday, TMC CEO Bill McKeon called the project “the last missing piece to this largest life science ecosystem in the country.”

In 2020, CBRE ranked Houston as the No. 2 emerging life sciences cluster in the nation.

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The dangers of relying on distant manufacturers for essential medical supplies was made plain by the supply chain snarls wrought by Covid-19, McKeon said. In the past, the therapeutics and other health care products invented at TMC’s campuses would have to be manufactured elsewhere in the U.S. Now, TMC BioPort could help keep that manufacturing in Houston.

“We need to have these things in the U.S., and being the largest medical city in the world,” says McKeon, “we are the largest utilizer of supplies — it becomes even more of a critical thing for us to solve.”

Located just south of the Houston Zoo, TMC was established in 1945 and has since grown to become the largest such facility in the world, serving a combined 10 million patients per year.

Its expansion into the life sciences ecosystem kicked off with TMC Innovation, which opened in 2015 in the space of the former Nabisco Cookie Factory at the corner of Holcombe and Alameda.

Five years later, TMC Helix Park, a 37-acre biomedical research campus, broke ground between Brays Bayou and Old Spanish Trail. Now, TMC BioPort aims to round out the life sciences ecosystem in the Bayou City.

— Maddy Sperling