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UMass Lowell and the John Adams Innovation Institute (of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, MTC) recently announced a $500,000 grant for the Massachusetts Medical Device Development (M2D2) center.
M2D2, directed by Prof. Stephen McCarthy of the Plastics Engineering Department in a joint venture with the UMass Medical School in Worcester (Sheila Noone, director of clinical research at Worcester, is co-director of the center), will use the funds to help entrepreneurs move new medical device ideas from patent into production. Many small medical device companies with promising innovations face a major obstacle as they search for funding. With venture capital getting harder to obtain, entrepreneurs need help to develop their patented ideas into prototypes for federal review and to interest investors.
McCarthy hopes to support up to 11 start-up companies each year with product evaluation, business advice and product prototyping, leveraging the state funds. After a smaller, $150,000 grant last February from the John Adams Innovation Institute, VasoTech (maker of a biodegradable, drug-eluting heart stent) worked with M2D2 and was awarded $1.2 million by the National Institutes of Health.
“We have tested our concept ߝ that M2D2 can help inventors of new medical devices secure additional funding to develop their ideas. The new funds will put M2D2 on the fast track, directly assisting companies with product prototyping and testing,” said McCarthy.
At the ceremony, Chancellor Marty Meehan emphasized UMass Lowell’s mission of working hand-in-hand with industry. He said, “M2D2 is UMass Lowell’s latest contribution to growing the life sciences economy. We are helping new medical device ideas get from patent to production, and in turn helping the state create new products and jobs.”
Massachusetts Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, reiterated the point, saying, “We in the legislature are responsible for making sure our money leads to getting jobs. These types of investments get us in a position to do that.”
Massachusetts Rep. Kevin Murphy, chair of the joint Committee on Higher Education, said, “Companies come here, not for our climate or our natural resources, but for the minds of our students and our talented workforce, to create high quality jobs.”
“Competition in the innovation economy is now genuinely global ߝ from research to manufacturing to the capital markets that finance the risk taking,” said Patrick Larkin, director of the Innovation Institute. “This award can strengthen Massachusetts’ conditions for continued success in medical devices.”
“UMass President Jack Wilson provided the original seed funding to launch this initiative two years ago through his Science and Technology Fund, and he could not be more pleased with the return on the investment in M2D2,” said Thomas Chmura, vice president for economic development. “UMass is committed to engaging the life sciences sectors across the state, and M2D2 targets an important one ߝ the medical devices industry.”
“MassMEDIC strongly supports this new M2D2 initiative,” said Thomas Sommer, president of MassMEDIC, the industry trade association, in a statement. “We look forward to partnering more fully with M2D2 to maintain a thriving medical device industry in the state.”
Representatives of the medical device industry, area legislators, and UMass Worcester officials participated in the announcement.