Gov. Charlie Baker today announced a $4 million dollar grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (“MassTech”) to UMass Lowell to support development of a printed and flexible electronics industry cluster, an emerging field that has the potential to become a $76 billion global market in the next decade.
The new Printed Electronics Research Collaborative (PERC) at UMass Lowell intends to position Massachusetts employers, large and small, to capitalize on the burgeoning printed and flexible electronics field, whether through direct development of products or as a piece of the supply chain. The PERC will initially focus on supporting the state’s defense cluster in printed electronics, but long-term, these technologies are expected to also have a broad range of applications in fields including health care, telecommunications and renewable energy. Printable electronics is currently a $16 billion global market and is projected to quadruple in 10 years, according to a 2014 report by IDTechEx.
“It is a privilege to announce today’s grant as another positive step forward for UMass Lowell, students and businesses across the Commonwealth. We have already seen great success stem from this partnership to fund research, support education and make new strides in innovation,” said Gov. Baker. “By connecting the incredible resources in our universities with the business community, the Commonwealth will continue to stimulate economic growth and create more good-paying jobs.”
The four-year grant award will be matched by $12 million in industry support and is being made as part of the Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program, a $50 million dollar capital fund formed to support large-scale, long-term research projects that have high potential to spur innovation, cluster development and job growth in the Commonwealth. The fund was created as part of the 2012 Jobs Bill and is managed by the Innovation Institute at MassTech. Proposals are reviewed by an Investment Advisory Committee composed of executives from academia, industry, and the venture capital communities.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan and MassTech CEO Pamela Goldberg joined Gov. Baker at UMass Lowell’s Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, an 84,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art research facility where PERC will connect businesses with the expertise of UMass Lowell researchers. The MassTech grant will outfit laboratories and other research space at the Saab Center, also home to the Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute, which will be among the participants in PERC. Other companies that have signed on include MicroChem of Westborough, Rogers Corp. of Burlington, SI2 Technologies of Billerica and Triton Systems of Chelmsford and more are expected, according to UMass Lowell Vice Provost for Research Julie Chen.
“Our mission is to convene industry, academia and government to catalyze economic opportunity in regions and clusters around the Commonwealth,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “This project hits the mark on several fronts, including the potential to drive the development of innovative products and business growth. We are excited to partner with UMass Lowell and regional industry partners like Raytheon to expand R&D capacity and help advance this exciting new industry cluster.”
“UMass Lowell has decades of experience in partnering with businesses, large and small, to advance technologies and economic development. Not only does bringing our researchers together with innovators in industry stimulate economic growth, it offers our students unparalleled opportunities for experiential education,” Meehan told attendees, including representatives of the business and technology communities, UMass Lowell and the Lowell legislative delegation. “We are grateful to the Commonwealth for its investment in what we believe will be a model for academic and industry collaboration.”
Highlighting the importance of both public and private investment in the University of Massachusetts, today’s event also included the announcement by UMass Lowell that two of its most successful and generous alumni are making another multimillion-dollar gift to the campus and students, bringing their total commitment to the campus to nearly $10 million.
Robert and Donna Manning, Methuen natives who earned degrees at UMass Lowell, will commit an additional $4 million to the university to be used specifically for strategic initiatives in UMass Lowell’s Robert J. Manning School of Business and the School of Nursing.
The gift, combined with the MassTech grant, will strengthen the university’s North Campus Innovation District, located on University Avenue in Lowell. Made up of the Saab Center, the Manning School, the Lydon Library and nearby academic and laboratory complex, the district brings together the expertise of UMass Lowell’s engineering, science and business programs to provide ease of access for students, entrepreneurs and industry partners.
The business school was named for Rob Manning in May 2011 in recognition of the couple’s earlier multimillion-dollar commitment to the university. Since the Mannings graduated from UMass Lowell in the 1980s, they have supported capital and other initiatives at the university, including establishing the Robert and Donna Manning Endowment Fund, which supports scholarships for students majoring in nursing and business. Rob Manning began his career at MFS Investment Management shortly after receiving his UMass Lowell degree in business administration. He worked his way up from research analyst to chairman, a role he has held since 2010, overseeing billions of dollars in assets and employees in 80 countries around the world. Donna Manning – whose career as an oncology nurse at a Boston hospital spans three decades – earned degrees in nursing and business administration at UMass Lowell.
“Donna and I received a world-class education at UMass Lowell that allowed us to become successful in our careers and our passion is to give back to future generations so they can fulfill their hopes and dreams,” said Rob Manning.
The latest commitment to UMass Lowell by the Mannings will support strategic priorities in the university’s School of Nursing and the Manning School of Business. Those include providing resources for the new dean of the business school as its new home, the Pulichino Tong Business Building, is constructed and outfitted, as well as equipping the new nursing simulation laboratory in the Health and Social Sciences Building.
“Once again, UMass Lowell is grateful to Rob and Donna Manning for their generosity and their support for the future of business and nursing education on our campus. They understand firsthand how a UMass Lowell education positions students for success after graduation and thanks to their gift, our students will be even more prepared they enter the job market,” said Meehan.