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UMass Lowell Opens New BioManufacturing Pilot Plant


Corporate Partners Donate $600,000 in Equipment to Speed Ideas into Production

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ  UMass Lowell opened a fully automated BioManufacturing Pilot Plant today, made possible through equipment and services donated to the University by three main corporate partners: Invensys Process Systems (IPS), Wyeth Biotech and Dakota Systems. Equipment to be donated by Millipore will be used in an adjoining lab that works in tandem with the pilot plant. Together, the four companies’ contributions are worth $600,000, UMass Lowell officials announced.

The new pilot plant and lab will help Massachusetts biomanufacturing companies bring new biopharmaceuticals closer to commercial production.

“This pilot lab is a great example of how the university, state and private corporations can partner to advance technology, expose students to the latest industry trends and bring ideas to market quicker,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Biotechnology is an important driver of the state’s economy, and this partnership addresses several critical challenges facing the industry. We thank IPS, Wyeth, Dakota and Millipore for their generous donations.”

IPS, a global technology, software and consulting firm, has installed its InFusion Enterprise Control System on a bioreactor donated by Wyeth. Dakota Systems and 12 of its suppliers donated a wide range of services, including fabricating the frame, integrating the control panel, orbital welding all of the piping, installing all electrical devices and instrumentation and completing cGMP functionality testing.  The automation element of the plant is exciting, according to Prof. Carl Lawton, director of the Massachusetts BioManufacturing Center at UMass Lowell.

“The biotechnology companies that use this plant, and, just as importantly, students who train there, will learn about process automation and optimization using the latest technology,” said Lawton. “Our students will graduate with advanced knowledge that they can use immediately.”

The Massachusetts BioManufacturing Center at UMass Lowell is an interdisciplinary research, development and education center that assists biotechnology companies in developing procedures leading to industry compliant manufacturing processes. Through education, applied research and process development, the center offers solutions that improve productivity, quality and cost of biomanufacturing operations.

“UMass Lowell students will be able to evaluate alternative research and production strategies based on potential bottom-line impact,” said Paulett Eberhart, president and chief executive officer of IPS. “This experience will give them a real edge as they enter this increasingly dynamic and competitive industry. We are proud to join with Wyeth, Dakota Systems and Millipore in supporting this unique learning environment.”

“We’ve enjoyed a positive relationship with UMass Lowell over the years,” said Scott Harrison, assistant vice president at Wyeth-Andover. “And we’re very excited about helping the university realize its vision for opening a state-of the-art Biomanufacturing Pilot Plant.  I know that many of our employees, a number of whom have graduated from UMass Lowell, are as proud as I am of our contribution and the university’s progress in the biotech arena.”

“Dakota Systems, Inc. is pleased to have collaborated with IPS and Wyeth to design and build this bioreactor for UMass Lowell.  New drug development coincides with the need for students’ interest in equipment design and plant operations. We hope this and our future contributions to this facility will inspire the students' interest in hardware design for this important industry," said John M. Thomas, president of Dakota Systems.
Millipore Corp., a Billerica-based life science company that provides technologies, tools and services for bioscience research and biopharmaceutical manufacturing, will donate up to $200,000 in equipment and services to the adjacent process development lab.  The Millipore Corp. Process Development Laboratory will be used for downstream purification and training for students and industrial professionals.  

“Millipore has cultivated a strong relationship with UMass Lowell over the years through recruiting initiatives and training programs,” said Jean Paul Mangeolle, president of Millipore’s Bioprocess Division. “We are excited about this new opportunity which will strengthen this existing partnership and help to position Massachusetts as a leader in the biotech industry.”

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

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Editor’s note: Photos of today’s event are available.

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224