The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has broken ground on the site for their new Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing (MAB), a facility for startup companies to test biomanufacturing methods and bioproducts located in Fall River, Mass.
"Massachusetts is leading the world in the life sciences thanks to our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure," said Massachusetts governor Deal Patrick. "I am proud of this investment and I look forward to seeing the Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing create jobs and further strengthen our leadership in the life sciences."
On completion next fall, the MAB will be the only facility in the U.S. where startups will be able to test their biomanufacturing methods and bioproducts at every stage of development and access full-service support from business and marketing to pure science support.
"I welcome this new facility as a sign of UMass Dartmouth's emergence as a major research enterprise within the University of Massachusetts," said UMass president Robert L. Caret. "Currently, UMass is number one in life sciences patents among universities in Massachusetts and number two in New England for royalties from products we've commercialized. The MAB will build on the strengths of the UMass system, and take UMass Dartmouth to the next level in research."
Construction of the $28 million facility will create approximately 120 jobs, and 10 UMass Dartmouth employees will serve on staff. As the anchor tenant of the SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park, the MAB is expected to leverage the creation of as many as 8,000 jobs once the Park is operating at full capacity. Because the MAB is being built to cGMP-like standards, it will offer high quality at a lower cost—meaning greater flexibility and faster turnaround times to prove products and bring them to market.
The MAB is designed to serve researchers and entrepreneurs as they scale up products and methods that will reshape the fields of biotherapeutics, biomedicine and green chemistry. The 35,000 sq. ft. facility will house four production suites, quality control labs, an R&D suite, training lab, lecture halls, office suite and presentation/public access area. Here, industry pioneers will grow antibodies to fight disease, generate new tissue from stem cells, create a new generation of biofuels and more. The MAB will also offer unique services to clients through the MAB Network, a web of preferred partners across the region and the state. Members of the network will assay and validate products and make seamless, cost-effective transitions to full-scale production a reality.
The Commonwealth invested $14.6 million in the project through a capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center. UMass Dartmouth is investing $10 million in capital funds and another $3 million is anticipated from equipment grants and corporate donations. In addition, the Commonwealth invested $38 million of ARRA funds to construct a new exit ramp from Route 24 that provides direct highway access to the 300-acre "Biopark" in Fall River—the largest ARRA-funded public works project in the Commonwealth.
"The UMass building authority is thrilled to bring projects like this one to reality that not only benefit the university and its students, but also add to the economic development of the region," said Katherine Craven, executive director, UMass building authority. "Our goal is to build a world-class facility unlike any other in the country that will keep entrepreneurs in the area and attract new life-science start-ups to Massachusetts."