Innovation Hub to Provide Startups Room to Grow
By Jill Gambon
UMass Lowell is expanding space for entrepreneurs, startups and new ventures in the city’s emergent Hamilton Canal District, thanks to $1 million in capital funding from the state.
In an April 24 visit to the city, Gov. Deval Patrick announced the funding, which will help complete construction of the two top floors of the newly renovated building at 110 Canal St., a former mill. The University, the building’s first tenant, is leasing 22,000 square feet of space from the developer, Trinity Financial.
The new UMass Lowell Innovation Hub will help entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures in testing products and business concepts, developing prototypes, raising funds and launching high-growth businesses. It will also provide additional room for the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2), a UMass Lowell-UMass Medical School partnership that offers product and business development assistance, incubator space and other support to medical device entrepreneurs. M2D2 currently occupies 14,000 square feet in Wannalancit Mills at 600 Suffolk St.
“We invest in innovation because we believe in enabling and encouraging industries that are using their brainpower to help shape our future,” said Patrick. “We look forward to seeing the great work that will come out of the Innovation Hub.”
"This is great news for the University. This facility will provide much-needed innovation space for startup companies, expanding beyond just the medical-device industry by supporting other startups in the robotics, flexible electronics and clean tech sectors," said Chancellor Marty Meehan.
Federal, state and local elected officials were on hand for the announcement of the Innovation Hub, which will have enough room for as many as 40 entrepreneurs and startups.
The $1 million in funding comes on the heels of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center recent award of $4 million to UMass Lowell for the M2D2 expansion.
The third floor of the building, which is scheduled to open in the fall, will feature office space, rapid prototype development tools, collaboration and meeting areas, industry suites and advanced manufacturing capabilities.
M2D2’s expanded presence on the building’s top floor is expected to open in Spring 2015 and will include wet labs, offices, prototyping and collaboration space.
The Canal Street building was built in 1920 by the Lowell Machine Shop, at one time a leading manufacturer of textile-making machinery and one of the largest businesses in Lowell. It was occupied from 1954 to 2006 by the Pellon Corp., which later became the Freudenberg Nonwovens Corp., a maker of lining materials for the garment industry and other technical applications. The building has been vacant since 2006.
State Sen. Eileen Donoghue described the transformation of the Hamilton Canal District, which now is home to condominiums, artists’ studios, the Lowell Community Health Center and other businesses, as a key to economic growth in the city.
“Ten years ago, we didn’t come down to the area. It was completely blighted,” Donoghue said. “Now, entrepreneurs can come here, grow and stay in Lowell. It really is a recipe for success.”