By Katie Doyle
BOSTON -- UMass Lowell has added an Irish ally to its network of global education partners, announcing Tuesday that it will join forces with the University of Ulster to help trans-Atlantic entrepreneurs develop medical devices.
The universities will work together to assist startup companies bring medical devices from "conception to commercialization," to help those businesses introduce their products to the marketplace and to the health care field.
"What starts off as a small connection can make a big impact," Senate President Therese Murray said at a Statehouse announcement.
Murray helped broker the agreement, which was signed by UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan and Dr. Michael Brennan, a senior lecturer in strategic management at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
The "memorandum of understanding" came at the beginning of the EU-US eHealth Marketplace, a two-day conference at the Statehouse to create business opportunities among more than 400 participants from 25 countries.
The UMass-Ulster partnership grew out of similar projects taking place at the universities. UMass Lowell's Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center and the Multi-Disciplinary Technology Centre for Healthcare at Ulster both have programs that offer entrepreneurs guidance in engineering, medical testing and business management.
Meehan said the partnership will be a critical factor in strengthening businesses and universities in Massachusetts and Ireland, adding another link in UMass-Lowell's network of partnerships with more than 95 universities in 40 countries.
"In particular, both universities are focused on the development of strong partnerships with the medical technology industry and on innovation and commercialization of university-based research," he said.
Meehan said the two universities will collaborate on graduate education and research projects, including the publication of joint papers, while also exchanging faculty and graduate students.
"At UMass Lowell, world-class means more than simply top notch. It means we are global in scope, ensuring our graduates are competitive in the global economy we live in," he said.
Later in an interview, Meehan said the first part of the agreement will encourage UMass Lowell faculty to engage in research, collaboration and business practices with personnel at the University of Ulster.
He said the partnership will expand opportunities in burgeoning fields such as nanomedicine and biotechnology. He said it will eventually introduce co-op and study abroad opportunities for graduate-level students.
Meehan said the partnership will also help businesses in Massachusetts develop medical devices from conception to marketplace and secure funding for their ideas.
Brennan said the partnership will investigate business models, innovation and entrepreneurship in medicine, which he thought would help address challenges in health care faced by the United States and Europe alike.
"Technology by itself is of limited value unless it's actually brought to the marketplace to be of tangible benefit to patient," he said.
Brennan said a team from the University of Ulster visited UMass Lowell on Monday and was very impressed with the university's vision and the passion of faculty and staff.
"We share together the enthusiasm for studying and researching," he said. "We're very interested in entrepreneurship and change and creativity and strategy. That's what we're going to be doing over the next several years."