Manufacturing Summit Opens Gateway To Technology and Research Opportunities

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - October 7, 2003 - Scientific advancements in biotechnology are spurring interest among manufacturing and engineering circles. Later this month, manufacturers will learn just how easy it is to partner with university research at the 7th annual Manufacturing Our Future Summit, Monday, October 20, 2003 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Worcester Centrum Centre in Worcester, Massachusetts. The keynote speaker at the Summit will be Governor Mitt Romney. The event's lead sponsors are the WPI Bioengineering Institute and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP). The Manufacturing Advancement Center (MAC) is organizing the Summit.

Jack Healy, director of operations for MassMEP, says, "Manufacturing has historically contributed more than 50 percent of Massachusetts' wealth-producing economy, but in the last three years it has undergone a significant restructuring. With the state's recent 20-percent loss in manufacturing jobs, WPI and BEI are developing opportunities to recapture the loss with the development of new products and new technologies. New industry-university research partnerships are the new wave... the new industrial revolution taking place right here in central Massachusetts."

Since 2000, Massachusetts has lost 79,600 manufacturing jobs, from 410,600 jobs in July of 2000 to 331,000 jobs in June of 2003. Healy continued to say that the old manufacturing jobs will never return, but that they have and will be replaced with the manufacturing of new products coming out of all the unique discoveries occurring in central Massachusetts.

The commercialization and manufacturing of biomedical and bioengineered devices are expected to have a profound effect on society and possibly transform manufacturing in Massachusetts as they are applied to everyday life. Manufacturers are welcomed to attend the Summit and learn how easy the Bioengineering Institute and WPI have made it to partner with university-based research. There are many new discoveries and alignments available.

WPI and BEI research and discoveries include such things as artificial skin for burn victims, wireless networks that connect emergency first responders to a central command, and technology to monitor the health of soldiers in the field in real time with wireless networking, noninvasive medical sensors and ultrasound imaging.

"With the start of WPI's Gateway Research Park this year we now have a place for the marriage of manufacturing and science to grow. BEI is well positioned to work with small and large firms that are looking to connect with university research," notes Timothy R. Gerrity, Ph.D., director of the WPI Bioengineering Institute and Summit speaker. "We can provide low-cost access for smaller companies that are often boxed out from working with larger institutions and offer them access to research. Our primary purpose of the Summit is to bring attention to partnership possibilities." Scheduled Summit speakers include keynote remarks from Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; Timothy Gerrity; Ann Hammersla, Ph.D., director of Office of Intellectual Property Council at MIT; Thomas Sommer, president of MassMEDIC; Michael Wacholder, director of Rensselaer Technology Park at RPI; and Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts.

Additional Summit sponsors include the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Business Development Corporation, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Providence and Worcester Railroad, RDW Group, Inc., and WPI.

For more information about the Summit, contact Katherine Mahoney at 508-831-7020 or kmahoney@wpi.edu or visit the Summit Web site at www.massmac.org/mofsummit.htm.

About the WPI Bioengineering Institute

The WPI Bioengineering Institute was created in 2002 to promote job creation and economic vitality by facilitating conversion of research discoveries into new products and new companies; to conduct research and development, tap the intellectual capital of the region and invoke the innovation process to create high-wage industries in the region.

The institute focuses on applied research, product development and product realization and will create a network of universities, hospitals, research organizations and development organizations linked electronically through design studios. It is based at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., and draws from WPI's expertise in biosensors, wireless communication, information technology and database analysis.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology.