LOWELL - Gov. Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) today announced $7 million in capital grants for UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College.
Through the MLSC, Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences supercluster. These investments are being made under the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Patrick in 2008.
“In order for Massachusetts to continue to create jobs and prosper, we must train our workers for the jobs of the 21st century global economy, and provide spaces where early-stage companies can succeed,” said Patrick. “Our innovation economy relies on a well-educated, well-skilled workforce, and these grants will expand opportunity and grow jobs in the Merrimack Valley.”
UMass Lowell has been awarded $4 million to create the Big Company/Little Company Innovation Hub where medical-device and bio-tech startup companies will benefit from the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) incubation services while receiving funding and mentoring from larger, established medical-device companies. M2D2 is a joint initiative of UMass Lowell and UMass Worcester that serves as a lifeline for medical-device entrepreneurs, providing easy, affordable and coordinated access to world-class researchers and resources. The success of medical-device companies participating in the current M2D2 ecosystem has attracted the attention of investors and larger medical-device companies. However, M2D2’s incubator is now operating at physical capacity and cannot accommodate additional startup clients. The funding will allow M2D2 to dedicate 11,000 square feet of new incubator space to medical-device and bio-tech startup companies. In addition, this will provide “soft landing” incubation space for European startup companies looking to enter the Massachusetts medical-device market.
“This funding will allow M2D2 to expand the much-in-demand services it provides to startups in an industry that is not only important to the Commonwealth’s economy, but also to the health and well-being of its citizens,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “We are grateful to Gov. Patrick and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for recognizing how M2D2 helps entrepreneurs turn innovative ideas into real products.”
“It’s great news for the Merrimack Valley that the M2D2 incubator is filled to capacity with innovative young companies, but it also means that more space is needed. The MLSC grant that we are announcing today for UMass Lowell will support the creation of much-needed expansion space,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC.
“This investment by the Commonwealth in M2D2 and the life sciences industry is an investment in the region’s future. For every job created in a medical device startup company, three additional jobs are created in the accompanying supply chain. Through M2D2, the university supports 15 such startups and this funding will allow the program to double capacity, creating life-saving medical devices while creating high-paying jobs for the residents of Massachusetts,” said Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at UMass Lowell.
“Thanks to the leadership and commitment over the years from UMass Lowell and the UMass Medical School, M2D2 has emerged as one of the truly outstanding models of university-industry-government collaboration in the commonwealth. And, it has become a real asset to one of the key sectors of the state's innovation economy,” said UMass President Robert L. Caret.
Middlesex Community College (MCC) will receive $3 million for the purpose of constructing and equipping a new biotechnology facility to replace the college’s current, outdated facility. Comprehensive planning for the new facility was completed with the assistance of a planning grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and MCC funding. The multi-phase planning process included conforming the current and emerging workforce skills required by the life sciences industry through a workforce needs and curriculum analysis and identifying the most feasible facility option for enhancing the education and training of MCC biotechnology students through an architectural study. The proposed facility, to be located on the fifth floor of the Talbot Science Building, will include a combined lecture room and laboratory, a Class 10,000 clean room, gowning area and prep room.
The addition of a clean room, which is not part of MCC’s current facilities along with the other proposed equipment and facilities upgrades, will significantly expand the capacity of MCC to prepare its students in the best possible way to meet the workforce needs of the life sciences industry.
Middlesex Community College President Carole Cowan said the life sciences grant will allow the college to invest in one of its burgeoning industries and to upgrade and supplement facilities that support the critical lab functions of the program. Specifically, the grant will allow for an investment of a “clean room” and combined lecture and laboratory space in its science properties.
“Working with Gov. Patrick and our legislative delegation, Middlesex has tried to respond to the evolving needs of our workforce partners, particularly in the STEM industries,” Cowan said. “Specifically, biotech in Massachusetts is one of the economic engines, and we welcome opportunities to align our college graduate preparedness with the industry clusters of our region.”
Middlesex has previously been awarded the gold level designation by the Massachusetts Life Science Education Consortium and Cowan said this investment in infrastructure will only serve to bolster the college’s offerings.
In addition to the grants announced today, four Lowell area high schools received equipment and supply grants from the MLSC this past December:
- Billerica Memorial High School – $116,013
- Greater Lowell Technical High School, Tyngsborough – $89,636
- Lowell High School – $87,028
- Nashoba Valley Technical High School, Westford – $100,000
These high school grants are critical for providing the STEM pipeline of students that may directly enter the workforce or go on to higher educational institutions.
“Middlesex Community College, and the four high schools that we are recognizing today, play major roles in training the next generation of our state’s life sciences workforce, and they are helping to ensure that training for innovation economy jobs is available and inclusive. Our grant funding will ensure that these schools can provide students with first-rate training facilities,” said Windham-Bannister.
“Gov. Patrick and the MLSC understand the significance of targeted investments in life sciences education and how it will impact our future workforce,” said state Sen. Eileen Donoghue. “By providing our students with world-class facilities, we will expand opportunity and create jobs throughout the Commonwealth and sustain our position as an industry leader in biotechnology.”
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1 billion, state-funded investment initiative. These investments create jobs and support advances that improve health and well-being. The MLSC offers the nation’s most comprehensive set of incentives and collaborative programs targeted to the life sciences ecosystem. These programs propel the growth that has made Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences. The MLSC creates new models for collaboration and partners with organizations, both public and private, around the world to promote innovation in the life sciences. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.