Meta Lab Tech Hub Submits Bid for Federal Recognition as a Regional Tech Hub in Charlotte

Charlotte, August 23, 2023 – The Meta Lab Tech Hub (MLTH) has officially submitted its bid for formal recognition of the Charlotte MSA as a Regional Tech Hub to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). As part of the federal CHIPS & Science Act legislation, of the hundreds of cities across the country expected to apply in Phase 1, only 20 will receive the highly sought after ‘Tech Hub’ designation in the United States. Those 20 will then be narrowed down to 5-10 in the fall for Phase 2 federal funding of up to $75M.

This bold initiative consists of support from a consortium of several major financial and healthcare firms, an R2 research university, workforce development agencies, and government, aims to position the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as a global epicenter for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) innovation.

The MLTH’s proposal underscores the critical importance of collaborative partnerships between academia, industry, and local communities in harnessing the potential of AI/ML technology.

“In a world driven by technology and data, access to diverse use cases is paramount for global competitiveness,” said North Caroline Representative Jason Saine, a longtime champion of technology innovation across the state. “The Meta Lab Tech Hub’s collaborative approach, spanning industries and sectors, exemplifies the innovative spirit that defines our region and holds the promise to shape the future of AI in a way that benefits us all.”

While the microchip and transistor industry have been essential components of the US national defense strategy to date, the MLTH consortium recognizes that the future lies in harnessing the power of AI, particularly in achieving the critical scale of iterative use cases. MLTH believes the true battle in the tech landscape will have global ramifications, and it is imperative that the United States recognizes realities and designs approaches to compete at the forefront of AI development.

MLTH recognizes the significance of our democratic bounds, which makes refining AI engines and applications a unique challenge. While major competitor countries are heavily investing in this opportunity, more importantly, they control a much greater scale of use cases to iterate against. These use cases, ranging from facial recognition applications to DNA modeling, are much easier for them to implement due to their forms of government and are critical to the refinement over time of AI engines.

To create the industries of the future we must make the investments needed, but we must ensure we craft a plan that has a high likelihood of both achieving global competitiveness as well as long-term financial sustainability. The Charlotte Regional Tech Hub’s vision is to overcome this challenge by fostering a collaborative ecosystem that leverages AI to its full potential, addressing the material scale of use cases and expertise presented by Charlotte’s two most powerful existing industries.

“Charlotte is globally competitive today in fintech as the nation’s 2nd largest banking hub, and healthtech as home to the third-largest nonprofit health system in the US as well as the $1.5B medical university and innovation district in development,” said Tariq Bokhari, Founder of the Carolina Fintech Hub, the lead organization of the MLTH bid. “With over 10 months of work on this project, our consortium is positioned to advance our region’s yet unfulfilled market opportunity and build upon these existing strengths by creating a joint venture of collaboration around artificial intelligence. In my mind, this consortium has the potential to become the AI-equivalent of the Zelle joint venture.”

Uniquely, at the core of the MLTH strategic vision is establishing a functional ‘Ethics in AI’ backbone, ensuring not only global competitiveness, but training the models through years of iterations and use cases to ensure the ethical basis of our democracy and culture is hard coded into our advancements. A critical subset of this work will ensure equity is achieved by training our models to recognize and address implicit bias.

“As we press forward with our mission to push the boundaries of AI application in the financial domain, we eagerly embrace the opportunity to partake in the Meta Lab Tech Hub consortium, an endeavor that harmoniously aligns with our pursuits,” said Arvy Rajasekaran, CIO, Enterprise Architecture, Ally Financial. “The prospect of uniting as a regional force to collectively foster an AI-infused venture at the convergence of Fintech and Healthtech, paired with advancing equity and social impacts, promises amplified synergies and compounded strengths.”

The MLTH will contain a unique aspect of ‘equity by design’, ensuring that inclusivity and representation of underserved communities is at the foundation of our plan of execution and inherent in the measurable outcomes.

“Technology and innovation continues to be a thriving sector for growth in North Carolina, including the ongoing construction at ‘The Pearl’ innovation district in Midtown Charlotte,” said Dr. Rasu Shrestha, chief innovation and commercialization officer for Advocate Health, of which Atrium Health is a part. “For Charlotte to be designated as a ‘Tech Hub’ would help infuse greater levels of resources and attention into the life sciences research and training taking place there, ultimately helping to reshape medicine and care delivery – as well as the regional economy – for the better.”

For media inquiries, please contact:


About the Meta Lab Tech Hub

The Meta Lab Tech Hub is a collaborative consortium of leading financial, healthcare, academic, and community organizations based in Charlotte, NC. Committed to advancing AI/ML innovation, the Meta Lab Tech Hub leverages cross-industry expertise to drive groundbreaking research, foster equitable opportunities, and propel the Charlotte region to the forefront of global AI leadership.