Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces Capital Grant Awards And Funding For Equipment And Supplies In Western Mass

Media Contacts:
Angus McQuilken, MLSC Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Phone: 617-921-7749
Email: amcquilken@masslifesciences.com

Heidi Weber, Public Relations Manager, Berkshire Community College
Phone: 413-236-2116 / Mobile: 518-281-6062
Email: hweber@berkshirecc.edu

$500,000 to Berkshire Community College to Fund Education Tied to the Berkshire Innovation Center

Springfield, MA – March 27, 2015

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) today joined elected officials and school leaders at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to announce more than $2 million in funding for life-sciences-related capital projects and nearly $400,000 in grants to purchase equipment and supplies for high schools and middle schools in Western Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts’ flourishing life sciences community has created opportunities and spurred economic growth in every region of the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will further strengthen our workforce in order to meet the needs of this growing industry through enhanced training facilities and programs at our middle schools and high schools.”

The largest grant awarded today was $972,850 for Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).  The grant will be used to establish a Biomedical Engineering Technology associate’s degree program with two BMET (Biomedical Instrumentation and Biomedical Device Manufacturing) tracks and to enhance STCC’s existing Biotechnology associate’s degree program.  As the only technical community college in Massachusetts, STCC has an on-going need for up-to-date industry-aligned equipment and lab space for life sciences programs.

This investment will build on a $150,000 planning grant that STCC received in 2013 and a $136,000 grant awarded in 2011 to update its equipment and labs to align with the needs of life sciences companies.  The planning grant allowed STCC to conduct a study to identify the most appropriate equipment that will best deliver a life sciences education leading to employment in the field.

“We are very pleased to receive this funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which will enable STCC to launch a new program to train individuals to repair sophisticated biomedical instrumentation,” said Dr. Ira H. Rubenzahl, President of STCC. “Graduates from this new program will help drive down the costs of repairs at area hospitals and other medical facilities while also providing our graduates with good paying jobs and meaningful work.”

Berkshire Community College (BCC) received $500,000 in funding to launch an educational underpinning that will support the development of the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC).  Berkshire Community College plans to purchase state-of-the-art reverse engineering equipment and 3-D prototype printers, and develop new courses, which will help to establish a foundation to provide students with advanced learning opportunities. These opportunities will help students obtain the essential skills to undertake research and new product development that will ultimately take place upon the opening of the BIC. Construction of the BIC is being funded in part through a previously awarded capital grant from the MLSC.

“We are thrilled to receive this award from the Massachusetts Life Science Center,” said Ellen Kennedy, President of BCC. “The funding for this state-of-the art equipment will ensure that our students develop the innovative skills needed to help our advanced manufacturing and biotechnology companies thrive.  This award will dramatically increase the technical abilities of our students to support the new Berkshire Innovation Center.”

Bay Path University in Longmeadow received $500,000 to purchase science equipment and supplies that will enable the University to expand opportunities for collaborative student research and through the integration of new science equipment, better prepare young women for career success in the life sciences sectors. Last year, the MLSC awarded Bay Path a planning grant of $50,000 that allowed the University to engage key stakeholders from the life sciences industry, workforce development community, and educational institutions to identify the capital needs and other resources needed to fully implement this initiative in the sciences at the University.

“The MLSC grant will strengthen Bay Path’s commitment to increase the number of young women entering the life sciences,” said Carol Leary, President of Bay Path. “It is important that we provide a strong foundation through innovative programming and state-of-the-art equipment in order to support research and laboratory experiences that lead to career advancement in STEM fields.”

Holyoke Community College (HCC) was awarded $300,000 to purchase biotechnology equipment and supplies. This request is part of a larger capital project, for which HCC received a $3.8 million award from the MLSC in 2013 for 13,000 square feet of lab space and the creation of a Center for Life Sciences. This includes a clean room for the biological sciences, which will be the only clean room in Western Massachusetts to support training for students, faculty and industry partners.  The construction is expected to be completed during the 2017-2018 school year.

“We are grateful to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for its continued investment in HCC and in the economic development of our region in particular,” said Holyoke Community College President Bill Messner. “The equipment purchased with this award will support curricular innovation and allow students to be trained on industry-standard technology while gaining the skills needed to support the region’s growing biotechnology sector.”

“At the MLSC we are using our capital dollars to ensure access to state-of-the-art life sciences training facilities across the entire state, so that students, regardless of zip code, will be able to access careers in our state’s fastest-growing industry sectors,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC.  “Springfield Technical Community College plans to use our grant to establish their new Biomedical Engineering Technology associates degree program, and to acquire up-to-date science equipment and lab space for their life sciences programs.  Similarly, our grants to Bay Path University, Holyoke Community College and Berkshire Community College, along with five high schools and middle schools in the region, will help provide students with access to cutting edge equipment and training facilities.”

“These grants will prepare students across the Commonwealth for the promising careers afforded by Massachusetts’s position as a global leader in the life sciences,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner (D – Chicopee), House chairman of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and Co-Chairman of the Legislature’s Biotech Caucus.  “I am particularly pleased that this funding will allow Chicopee Comprehensive High School to prepare students for careers in critical local industries by using some of the most advanced equipment available.”

The equipment and supply grant recipients that were also announced today include vocational technical schools, a public high school and two public middle schools. Awardees provide an array of training ranging from general STEM education curricula to biotechnology.  The student population that will benefit from these equipment grants represents a diverse workforce.

The STEM Equipment and Supplies Grant Program, launched in 2011, has previously awarded more than $8.4 million to 61 different high schools and organizations throughout Massachusetts and leveraged more than $1 million in matching funds from the life sciences industry.

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 well-being. 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.

About Berkshire Community College
Berkshire Community College (BCC) is a public, fully accredited, community college offering associate degree and certificate programs, as well as various other educational opportunities, primarily to the residents of Berkshire County and surrounding areas. Visit BCC online at www.berkshirecc.edu.