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Gov. Announces $4M for Life Sciences Initiative

M2D2 Center Will Expand Operations, Improve Facility

From left, UMass President Jack Wilson, Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos, Gov. Deval Patrick and Chancellor Marty Meehan

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Gov. Deval Patrick came to campus to announce that UMass Lowell will receive $4 million to help spur growth of the life sciences industry.

The funding will help the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) expand its facility. M2D2 is a partnership of UMass Lowell and UMass Worcester that helps companies to move innovative new medical devices from concept to market.

“The world wants what we have,” said Patrick, who pointed out that 40,000 people attended BIO International convention in Boston last year, including a delegation of 300 just from Singapore. Massachusetts is a world leader in life sciences and has a supercluster of medical device companies, but the companies face diminished venture capital support in the early stages.

“We must not assume because have it today we will have it in the future. The cost of inaction is too high,” Patrick said, noting that waiting for better economic times “jeopardizes the strength and leadership we have in this sector. California is not waiting. China is not waiting. North Carolina is not waiting.”

The funding will come from a bond authorization that has already been approved by the Legislature. The University has invested $4.5 million on the facility, and the state commitment will help to leverage private funding. 

UMass President Jack Wilson said, “M2D2 is a stellar example of the University of Massachusetts’ role … an example of the success we can create when we bring education, business and government together.”

“By funding this home for UMass Lowell’s medical device development initiative, the Governor is helping to grow the life sciences economy.  The Governor and I are committed to boosting this sector of the life sciences ‘supercluster’ ߝ one that can lead to jobs, and new state revenue, quickly,” said Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos, chair of Senate Ways and Means.

Through M2D2, plastics engineering and medical experts, working with a steering committee of industry veterans and venture capital managers, guide companies through the pipeline from idea to production. M2D2 is co-directed by UML’s Stephen McCarthy, professor of plastics engineering, who holds nine patents and is a co-founder of the nanotechnology-based company Encapsion, and Dr. Sheila Noone, UMass Worcester’s director of clinical research.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said, “This facility will be fully functional within months of receiving the funds, serving as a prototype itself for the state’s proposed regional innovation centers.”

Tom Sommer, executive director of MassMEDIC, the industry association of medical device companies, emphasized the importance of this sector in the economy. He said, “More than 43 percent of the annual sales are overseas, and this accounts for 10 percent of the state’s total exports.”

Exhibitors at the event included Smith & Nephew, the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council and Nexcelom.

See more pictures from the press conference.