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UMass Lowell’s ability to address industry’s need for the latest technology goes back a century to the days of the Lowell Textile Institute. That tradition continuesߞ;and continues to receive state backingߞ;with a $150,000 grant from the John Adams Innovation Institute to the Mass Medical Device Development Center (M2D2).
With the funds, M2D2 will help inventors turn new medical product ideas into prototypes likely to secure federal and private funding.
“We are excited about assisting potential new medical device companies,”
said Prof. Stephen McCarthy, co-director of M2D2, at a recent announcement of the award. “This is a pilot program. We really expect to grow it.”
Joseph D. Downing, chief operating officer for the Innovation Institute, presented a “check” to McCarthy and Chancellor David MacKenzie. “Everyone likes technology, but you’re really investing in people,” he said. “The involvement of business and industry leaders in this project convinced us of the ‘reputation effect’ߞ;that smart dollars will follow the reputation.”
McCarthy’s M2D2 team includes Hooks Johnston, a Smith and Nephew retiree, as chair of its steering committee, and Mark Trusheim, a biotech industry consultant and former interim president for the Mass Biotech Council. Steering committee members represent venture capital firms, large and small medical device companies, UMass and economic development agencies.
Thomas Chmura, UMass vice president for Economic Eevelopment, noted that the state’s economic stimulus legislation has provided the funding so that the Innovation Institute can make such awards. He thanked Sen. Steven Panagiotakos and state Rep. Thomas Golden, on hand for the announcement, for their support.
Panagiotakos noted that the technology sector has been hard hit by global competition. “The state needs to be proactive in economic development and help seed innovation and technology,” he said.
Golden said he would like to see M2D2 expand. “It’s my hope that one, the technology stays and two, jobs are to follow,” he said.
The M2D2 concept received seed funding in 2005 from the UMass President’s Science and Technology Fund. The center is a collaboration between UMass Lowell and UMass Worcester, combining Lowell’s expertise in plastics engineering with the Medical School’s clinical trial capabilities. Sheila Noone, director of the Office of Clinical Research at Worcester, co-directs M2D2 with McCarthy. Rounding out the M2D2 team are Renae Lias Claffey, director of government relations; Ken Geiser, assistant to the Provost for research; and Edward March, executive in residence at UML, as well as the UMass Donahue Institute’s Rebecca Loveland and Kate Modzelewski.
The announcement came at a meeting of more than 150 business executives at the Merrimack Valley Venture Forum, held at Wannalancit. M2D2 steering committee chair Johnston told the audience that while employment in the industry has grown in other states, it has fallen here in the last two years, due to a change in the investment climate. “The little guys aren’t getting funding,” he said. “Our hope for M2D2 is to fill the early-stage void.”