Governor Deval L. Patrick and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announce Nearly $6 Million in Capital Grant Funding for Boston Research Institutions and Incubators

April 1, 2014

Grants will fund lab planning, renovations, new equipment and space for early-stage companies

BOSTON – April 1, 2014 – Governor Deval L. Patrick and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) today announced nearly $6 million in grants to support lifesciences-related capital projects in the City of Boston, including $5 million for UMass Medical School’s MassBiologics to fund major lab and facility renovations. Grants were also awarded to The UMass Boston Venture Development Center and The Venture Café. This is in addition to more than $900,000 in funding that the MLSC announced this past December for equipment and supply grants at vocational technical schools and public high schools in the Boston area.

Through the MLSC, Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences ecosystem. These investments are being made under the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick in 2008.

“Through the investments we are making in education, innovation and infrastructure, Massachusetts has become the global leader in life sciences,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “These grants represent investments in all three, and will result in new life sciences jobs in Greater Boston and beyond.”

The $5 million grant for MassBiologics will be used to build and operate a first-in-Massachusetts cGMP Vector Manufacturing Center (VMC) to respond to a new era in the use of viral vectors to prevent and treat human diseases. The VMC will be a 3,900 sq. ft. commercial/clinical scale facility that will include multi-platform upstream cell culture, downstream purification and dedicated fill capabilities. The facility will be built within the existing shell space of the research and administration building at MassBiologics. The VMC will enhance the ability of the Massachusetts life sciences community to translate breakthrough science into viable commercial products. The unique set of competencies and facilities that will be possessed by the VMC do not exist in any current commercial facility capable of manufacturing virus based products.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the MLSC on a project critical to developing new life saving treatments for a range of human diseases,” said Michael F. Collins, Chancellor of UMass Medical School. “This partnership is a wonderful example of how a targeted investment from the MLSC can further leverage the expertise found at MassBiologics for the benefit of Massachusetts’ life sciences ecosystem.”

“We are at the dawn of a new era in the use of viral vectors to prevent and treat human diseases,” said Mark S. Klempner, MD, Executive Vice Chancellor for MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “This facility will be able to manufacture a new generation of medicines for cancer, neurodegenerative, infectious and genetic diseases and also train the workforce for these innovative technologies. This investment by the MLSC in the medical school and MassBiologics will provide the Massachusetts life sciences community with a tremendous resource to advance this important new therapeutic approach.”

Additional grants from the MLSC’s capital program were also announced today:

  • The UMass Boston Venture Development Center (VDC) was awarded $588,848 to help build, within the 18,000 square foot VDC, a fifth ready-to-use wet laboratory, as well as a core facility with shared equipment in order to launch additional high potential life science startup companies. As a result, the VDC will be able to meet the needs of one to three additional life science startups. The increased capacity will also create internship opportunities for talented students, thereby furthering the diversity of the life science workforce, and help the VDC to be 100 percent financially self-supporting through company memberships.
  • The Venture Café Foundation was awarded $347,000 to continue to strengthen and connect communities of innovation at District Hall, the world’s first civic, public-purpose innovation center. The Venture Café Foundation, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), is responsible for the operation of this not-for-profit facility that anchors Boston’s Innovation District. District Hall is the result of a public-private partnership involving the City of Boston (vision), Boston Global Investors (funding and construction), the Briar Group (hospitality), Hacin+ Associates (design and architecture), CIC, and the Venture Café Foundation (operations and innovation expertise). The funding will be used to transform the user experience at District Hall. These include upgrades in furniture, A/V, high-speed internet, and security.

“A key strategy of the Life Sciences Center is to use our capital dollars to enable the creation of unique resources that are available to the Massachusetts life sciences community, and these cutting edge projects in the City of Boston are good examples of that,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. “The Center's grants will be used to advance biomanufacturing, provide additional accelerating space for start-up companies and increase connections within and across our innovation sectors.”

“Each of these investments, in different ways, strengthens our ties with the Massachusetts life sciences industry – by expanding our successful center for life sciences start-ups in the VDC and by creating a new and unique manufacturing resource for cutting-edge gene therapy companies in MassBiologics,” President Robert L. Caret said. “These investments reflect the tremendous value brought by UMass to industry and to the innovation economy of the Commonwealth.”

“Since the VDC opened five years ago, it has generated more than $70 million in company investment, created 200 new jobs, and launched some of the best startups in Boston. This grant will help us address the backlog of companies that understandably wish to join our VDC. More space, more labs, and more startups hosted at the VDC means more opportunities: for our students, our companies, and for Boston,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J.Keith Motley.

“Innovation is a social process that starts and advances with conversations and flourishes through collaboration. District Hall is a venue for the conversations and the collaborations that fuel our innovation economy,” said Carlos Martínez-Vela, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Venture Café Foundation. “This investment will enhance a first-of-its-kind facility that shares a mission with the life sciences community: to improve the human condition through innovation.”

Also celebrated at Tuesday’s event were nine Greater Boston area high schools and workforce development organizations that received MLSC equipment and supply grants this past December: Boston Latin School, Charlestown High School, Codman Academy Charter Public School, East Boston High School, Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, The BioBuilder Educational Foundation, Watertown High School and Weymouth High School. These high school grants are critical for providing the STEM pipeline that may directly enter the workforce or go on to higher educational institutions.

“The life sciences sectors are now the fastest job producers in Massachusetts, so a key strategy of the Life Sciences Center is to use our capital dollars to ensure that students all across the commonwealth are prepared to compete successfully for these jobs,” said Windham-Bannister. “The nine high schools and organizations we are recognizing today play major roles in training the next generation of our state’s life sciences workforce, and they serve diverse populations, ensuring that training for innovation economy jobs is inclusive. Our grants help ensure that these schools can provide students with firstrate training facilities.”

“I congratulate MassBiologics and the other grant recipients on these awards. This unique project promises to catalyze future community growth and will serve as an innovative facility that will enable the development of a diverse and highly skilled workforce,” said Representative Russell Holmes. “With this new center, MassBiologics will now have the capacity to train students, researchers, and entrepreneurs with cutting edge equipment and accelerate the commercialization of high impact technology.”

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About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1-billion, state-funded investment initiative. These investments create jobs and support advances that improve health and wellbeing. The MLSC offers the nation’s most comprehensive set of incentives and collaborative programs targeted to the life sciences ecosystem. These programs propel the growth that has made Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences. The MLSC creates new models for collaboration and partners with organizations, both public and private, around the world to promote innovation in the life sciences. Learn more at http://www.masslifesciences.com/

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