June 9, 2015 – The Fourth Annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Education was held at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center (ICC) from June 9 through June 11. UMass Lowell officials kicked off the symposium by unveiling the new Innovation Hub (iHub) and M2D2 expansion space at 110 Canal Street. The expansion is sure to become another jewel in the growing UMass Lowell legacy.
A canal boat transported passengers to the new facility from the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center (ICC) via the Pawtucket Canal. A Lowell National Historical Park representative was heard touting the significance of the canal, a waterway once used to power textile mills. A first time Lowell visitor said, “Too bad the ride along Lowell’s industrial canyon was so short. Is it possible to go further?” The answer is yes. Canal boat tours to the Merrimack River and back occur throughout the summer. Over two hundred guests were networking inside the new facility on the third floor. The symposium was attended by educators, administrators, and venture capitalists from various parts of the country. Representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Babson, Arizona State, Rice, and even the University of New Brunswick mingled with venture capital executives and a contingent of Lowell’s higher education elite. Food servers floated through the area with trays of steak tips and coconut chicken. Former Congressman Marty Meehan knows how to throw a party. Sadly, this was one of his last as Chancellor of UMass Lowell.
As UML Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney began the night’s proceedings, she acknowledged the work of Desh Despande, who’s been instrumental in forging bonds between UML and India. Entrepreneurship and higher education are the keys to the success of social and economic globalization.
The star of the show was Chancellor Meehan. As he bounded up to the podium in typical upbeat fashion, all eyes immediately turned to the stage area. There was a hush as Chancellor Meehan touted UML’s brand bright and shiny new Innovation Hub. He waxed about being hired by Jack Wilson as a non-traditional candidate (a U. S. Congressman), and quipped that he always admired Mr. Wilson’s judgment. He mentioned his new position as President of the UMass system, and joked that as he recently looked out over the UMass Boston campus towards the water, he was told “Marty, that’s the Atlantic Ocean, not the Merrimack River.” Chancellor Meehan acknowledged his growing friendship with Desh Despande with a warm jest: “Desh is never shy about giving advice. Thank you for the mentoring you’ve given me.”
With State Senator Eileen Donaghue, State Representative Rady Mom and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry present, Chancellor Meehan said, “There’s not a better example of public/private partnership than for us to locate our M2D2 program here in this facility. We believe the building will soon be filled with small businesses. As incubating operations mature, many will stay in Lowell … some will move elsewhere.” He said, “Lowell is an outstanding environment to learn. I look forward to bringing this program to fruition.”
Mr. Meehan then formed an analogy between the new UML Innovation Hub and those who founded Lowell in the early nineteenth century as an enterprise zone based on the vision of the City’s namesake Francis Cabot Lowell. Those early pioneers of technological innovation were Nathan Appleton, Patrick Tracy Jackson, Paul Moody, and Kirk Boott. They designed and built the mills, fueling the industrial revolution with their investments and combined expertise. Today’s innovators work in technological fields involving medical devices, bio and nano-technology, plastics engineering, and robotics … fields highlighted right here at Umass Lowell.
As the kick-off wound down, new tenants of the iHub were unpacking and acclimating themselves to their new spaces in the facility. Upstairs on the fourth floor, KnipBio R&D Director Catherine Pujol-Baxley was doing just that in her new shared wet lab space. New to the program, the fledgling company spent three months at Wannalancit Mills before moving over to the new iHub at 110 Canal St. KnipBio was the first to set up and begin work here. Pujol-Baxley said, “This is the best work development space I’ve been in. I’m very happy.” When asked about her company’s plans when their aquaculture program is rollout ready and fully funded, she said, “We’ll have five or six workers here by the end of the year. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to move forward with expansion plans by next summer. And when we do, we plan to stay in Lowell.”
updated: June 17, 11:11am
by George DeLuca
Lowell2020 (like us on Facebook!)