New $4 Million Facility Nurtures Innovation
By Sandra Seitz
For the scientists and entrepreneurs, it was a day to step back and listen to speeches, mingle with well-wishers and enjoy the official opening.
Then it was back to work, developing products to address such critical health issues as glaucoma, wound care and osteoporosis-related fractures.
The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2), a business incubator at UMass Lowell, has eight medical device startups already in residence in its laboratory and office space. The incubator is the result of a $4 million renovation that has transformed 14,000 square feet of a former mill building into a state-of-the-art facility for emerging companies.
“An innovative initiative in its own right, M2D2 is helping to grow the innovation economy,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan at the opening. “Start-up medical device companies are eager for our support.”
That support includes expertise in engineering, business management, medical procedures, prototyping and clinical trials. M2D2 is a joint initiative of UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School in Worcester to help companies bridge the large gap between invention and the production of new medical devices.
Over the past decade, Massachusetts’ medical device exports have grown at more than twice the rate of the state’s overall exports. The industry employs nearly 25,000 workers in the Commonwealth and is responsible for creating more than 80,000 jobs in related industries, according to recent study by the business consulting company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration provided funding for the renovation project, which was managed by the UMass Building Authority.
“This facility provides new opportunities for medical device startup companies,” said UMass Lowell Prof. Stephen McCarthy, co-director of M2D2. “The wet labs, together with expertise offered by engineering faculty, can help entrepreneurs design cutting-edge products that doctors and clinicians will want to use.”
The co-director from the Medical School, Asst. Vice Provost for Clinical Research Sheila Noone, said, “Our faculty clinicians help medical device entrepreneurs understand how a device would be used in practice, providing a critical M2D2 service.”
More than 20 M2D2-affiliated startup companies showcased their new product ideas at the event. Medical problems addressed by those entrepreneurs include bedsores, uterine prolapse and overuse of angioplasty.
Located in Lowell’s historic Wannalancit Mills building, the incubator was designed by the firm Stantec, which has offices in Boston and Westford. The design retains the industrial look and feel of the building’s original use as a textile mill, with exposed brick walls and wood decking in the ceiling, while bringing modern amenities such as a folding glass wall in the conference room and adaptable desk and lab tables.
Video: StatVideo is the first company to manufacture at M2D2.