Considered by many industry observers to be one of the top five medtech hubs in the world, Massachusetts is not resting on its laurels. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced yesterday approval of a $9.7 million grant to build and equip the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield. The facility will include cleanrooms, state-of-the-art testing equipment, and lab space. The goal is to attract both existing medical device manufacturers who may not have the resources to perform R&D at this level on their own as well as startups looking for an incubator. The center will be located in the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield.
The Berkshire Innovation Center will catalyze, enable, and accelerate innovation and growth of existing companies in western Massachusetts, primarily small to medium-size manufacturing companies in the life sciences and life sciences supply chain, according to a press release published by the MLSC. The facility will enable shared research, early stage production and commercialization, and workforce training, adds the release.
The center will be a perfect complement to programs offered at the Berkshire Community College and to a planned career and vocational technical high school, said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi. "The creation of the center will be an engine for growth that will redefine our region and enrich generations of young people to realize 21st century careers right here in Pittsfield," said Bianchi.
The University of Massachusetts Ambers and UMass Lowell have signed on with the Berkshire Innovation Center as research partners. The center is expected to open in 2015.
Proposed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007 and signed into law in 2008, the MLSC is committed to investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state's life sciences cluster. In the midst of the Great Recession, the initiative was not universally welcomed, but, six years on, it has been called a "real asset contributing in a meaningful way to the state economy" by Thomas Sommer, President of MassMEDIC, an organization representing medical device manufacturers, suppliers and associated groups in Massachusetts and the surrounding region.
The medical device industry in Massachusetts is directly and indirectly responsible for approximately 82,500 jobs, according to a study published by Deloitte. Medical devices reportedly account for more than 10% of total state exports.
For a deeper dive into the past, present, and future of Massachusetts' medical technology cluster, read Regional Focus: Molding a global medtech hub in Massachusetts, published by PlasticsToday in March 2014.