Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Awards WPI $6.6 Million Grant for Next Phase of Gateway Park

Grant Leverages $25 Million Private Investment for Development of New Facility that Will Create Jobs, House Young Companies, and Provide Training Programs in the Life Sciences
February 24, 2010

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Waltham, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Board of Directors today awarded a $6.6 million grant to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to support the next phase of life sciences related development at Gateway Park in Worcester. The grant leverages $25 million in private investment for the development of a new 80,000-square-foot life sciences facility anticipated to create 120 construction jobs and 142 new permanent jobs at completion.

The grant supports the development of WPI’s Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC); a new incubator for Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI); and expanded academic and research space, including new facilities for the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science. The BETC is planning a 10,000-square-foot facility that will provide hands-on biomanufacturing training to support industry workforce development. MBI is planning to expand its incubator resources by developing a new wet-lab core facility to help more companies launch, grow, and provide jobs. MBI currently operates three life sciences incubators in Central Massachusetts (one of which is located in the first Gateway Park building) and has graduated 30 companies, creating 265 new jobs since 2000.

In addition to these programs, which will be housed in the new facility at Gateway Park, the expanded development will make available 40,000 square feet of additional lab and office space for commercial and academic uses, including workforce development.

"We have a strong partnership with the City of Worcester, WPI, and the private sector to meet infrastructure needs and create jobs," said Governor Deval Patrick. "This grant is the sort of targeted investment we must continue making even during challenging economic times."

"Gateway Park is a great example of a public-private partnership that is contributing to job creation and long-term growth in Massachusetts," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Today's approved funding will not only support the design, fit-out, and construction of a new wet lab at Gateway Park, but the funding will also lead to even further investment in the growing life sciences industry in the region and the Commonwealth."

“Significant growth in the life sciences is taking place in the Worcester area, thanks in large part to the more than $100 million in investments that the center has made in the region,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “This investment will help to accelerate that growth even further, while supporting a terrific project that will create jobs, provide training for a next generation of life sciences workers, foster the growth of new companies and advance scientific research.”

"This grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will provide direct support in the Commonwealth's first Growth District here at Gateway Park for training in biomanufacturing, new business creation, and advanced research in life science applications," said WPI president Dennis Berkey. "We are grateful to the Life Sciences Center, its president Susan Windham-Bannister, and Governor Deval Patrick and his administration for their leadership and this investment in economic development and scientific and technological advancement in the heart of the Commonwealth."

“This is exactly the kind of investment envisioned by the Governor and Legislature when they crafted the Commonwealth’s Life Sciences Initiative, and it will have tremendous leverage helping companies grow and add jobs here in Massachusetts,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, MBI President and CEO.

“Gateway Park is an integral piece in the development of life sciences and biotech jobs not only for Worcester and Central Massachusetts, but for the entire commonwealth,” said State Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). “This generous grant will play a tremendous role in the continued evolution of this revolutionary public-private partnership project in the heart of our city.”

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community.

About Gateway Park
Gateway Park was developed as a joint venture of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC). The park has transformed a former 19th century brownfields industrial site into a clean, 12-acre campus for life sciences companies, academic research, workforce training, and associated operations. Gateway Park anchors the first Growth District designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for life sciences and related economic development. The significant public and private investments already made at Gateway Park (including an 880-space parking facility) have primed the site for immediate development.

The first complex at Gateway Park is WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center (LSBC), which opened in 2007 and is now fully occupied. The $53 million, 125,000 square-foot facility, is home to a mix of academic and commercial entities including graduate research programs in biology and biotechnology, chemistry and biochemistry, biomedical engineering and chemical engineering. The LSBC contains several advanced research core facilities and a bioprocessing laboratory, all available for contracted services and workforce training. Among the growing companies now at Gateway Park are Blue Sky Biotech, a contract research company, CellThera, with its tissue regeneration research program funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and RXi Pharmaceuticals, co-founded by Nobel Laureate Craig Mello to develop RNAi-based therapeutics.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, and information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.