Officially opening its new Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony, WPI today launched a new era in life sciences and bioengineering for both WPI and Central Massachusetts and the revitalization of a long dormant part of the city.
Worcester, Mass. – Today, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) officially opened its new Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park. With a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the new world-class facility, WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey launched a new era in life sciences and bioengineering for both WPI and Central Massachusetts and the revitalization of a long dormant part of the city. Dignitaries in attendance included Congressman James McGovern, Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray, Worcester Mayor Konstantina Lukes, Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien, State Senators Ed Augustus and Harriett Chandler, and Worcester Business Development Corp. (WBDC) President David Forsberg.
“With the opening of Gateway Park, we are witnessing the dawn of a vibrant new neighborhood in Worcester, where people will make their homes, produce important work, and enjoy all our great city has to offer,” said President Berkey. “Gateway Park exemplifies utterly the familiar refrain heard on our campus that, 'What is good for Worcester is good for WPI.' The discoveries made in this marvelous new facility, and the collaborations with industry that bring these discoveries to the public, will play a vital role in Worcester’s economic development and in WPI’s ability to make a difference in the world.”
The first new facility to be built at Gateway Park, the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center serves as the focal point for graduate education and research in the life sciences and related engineering fields at WPI. Its research areas include regenerative medicine, molecular nanotechnology and biosensors, plant systems, tissue engineering, and untethered healthcare. Specifically, the center includes WPI’s Corporate and Professional Education Department, the WPI Bioengineering Institute, and faculty researchers from such academic departments as biology and biotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, and chemical engineering. The building also houses business and commercial entities including Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, a non-profit entity that specializes in promoting the growth of start-up biomedical companies.
Gateway Park’s opening coincides with Gov. Deval Patrick's pledge to invest $1 billion to promote and support biotechnology development initiatives in the commonwealth over the next 10 years through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative. The creation of Gateway Park is critical to the economic development of Central Massachusetts; its goal, ultimately, is to create a new "gateway" to Worcester that will showcase the city's vibrant and growing life sciences and bioengineering industry. To date, more than $75 million has been invested in the property. At full build-out, Gateway Park will feature more than $250 million in private investment and approximately 750,000 square feet of research and development and office space geared to the life sciences. Gateway Park will create between 1,600 and 2,000 high-wage and high-skill jobs for the city of Worcester.
A large number of biotech and life sciences companies have already chosen to move to central Massachusetts because of lower operating costs and easy access to university researchers, clinical trial sites, and trained labor. In the past five years, 49 of the 100 largest biotech firms in Massachusetts have located their offices between Route 128 and Worcester, with only one of the top 25 medical device firms remaining in Boston. Worcester offers an environment rich with investors and incentives offering a variety of funding sources. It is home to a highly educated workforce of professionals in science, technology, and management and boasts an affordable cost of living and outstanding quality of life. Worcester also provides a vibrant setting for any life science endeavor, bringing together a confluence of “the eds and the meds,” with 14 academic institutions of higher learning and two major hospital systems. At the same time, the move westward by large and small companies creates exciting opportunities for Worcester, the second largest city in New England.
Throughout Gateway Park’s development, WPI worked closely with the WBDC and state and federal officials to make it a centerpiece for the growth of the life sciences industry in New England. Its buildings are custom-designed to answer the specific needs of the life sciences researchers and companies with flexible, adaptable lab space, and cutting-edge wireless infrastructure. Furthermore, Gateway Park is allowing for economic development in Worcester, while simultaneously preserving historically significant buildings and revitalizing the community.
WPI continues its Gateway Park grand-opening celebrations throughout the week:
Thursday, Sept. 20: The WPI Bioengineering Institute hosts a symposium titled “Regenerative Bioscience and Engineering” featuring world renowned experts in the field of regenerative medicine. Topics to be covered include extracellular-based tissue regeneration, cell biology of tissue regeneration, early embryonic development and somatic cell nuclear transfer, cardiac regeneration, stem cells in cancer biology, and somatic cell nuclear transfer and alteration of genomic potential.
Friday, Sept. 21: WPI host its inaugural "Distinguished Lecture in Life Sciences and Bioengineering.” At this event, the university will confer an honorary doctor of science degree upon 2006 Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, professor of molecular medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Following the convocation, Mello will deliver a lecture titled, “Return to the RNAi World: Rethinking Gene Expression, Evolution, and Medicine.”
“The opening of Gateway provides a splendid opportunity for WPI and Worcester to bring together leaders in science, medicine, education, industry, and government, and to celebrate a partnership that has served and inspired both the university and the city for more than 140 years,” said Berkey. “Just as WPI and Worcester once helped lead the Industrial Revolution, we are now leading a revolution in the life sciences and bioengineering.”
About Gateway Park
Gateway Park is a joint venture of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC). Located in Worcester, near the intersection of I-190 and I-290, Gateway Park is designed as an 11-acre, mixed-use destination for life sciences and biotech companies and the people who work for them. The project includes five life sciences buildings totaling 500,000 square feet of flexible, adaptable lab space designed to meet the needs of research organizations; 241,000 square feet of market rate, loft condominiums; and several planned retail establishments.WPI is also exploring the possibility of graduate student housing on one of the sites. Gateway Park is part of the larger 55-acre Gateway Redevelopment District. It is currently home to numerous businesses, offices, restaurants, and business services, as well as a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.