UMass Dartmouth innovation incubator evolves to seize new opportunities for region
UMass Dartmouth’s Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center, a tech-business incubator that emerged from the ashes of the devastating Kerr Mill fire in 2001 to launch more than 40 companies, is taking on a new mission and name.
The new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is expanding its outreach to southeastern Massachusetts entrepreneurs, including those among the faculty and students at UMass Dartmouth. While the ATMC was focused on bringing start-ups into the incubator, the CIE will for the first time act as a “virtual incubator,” providing services to start-ups located throughout the region, thus accelerating their growth.
Over the next three years, the CIE expects to incubate 25companies on-site and another 30 off-site. The CIE wants to graduate 10 companies, create and sustain 150 high wage jobs, and generate $24 million of economic activity for the region.
The change is powered by an $11.5 million state grant, which allowed UMass Dartmouth to purchase the 60,000 square foot facility at 151 Martine Street. By owning the facility, the University has much more flexibility in utilizing the space to drive innovation and entrepreneurship.
“The new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is designed to accelerate economic growth of the region by incubating new technology-driven, high-wage companies built on exciting ideas,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman. “Combined with the intellectual power of UMass Dartmouth faculty and students, the business acumen of our partners, and the civic leadership of our elected officials, the Center can be a catalyst for regional transformation.”
“This institution has long been a hub of ingenuity and progress in the region, spurring economic development and growth,” said state Senator Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, who led the effort to secure the grant. “I am pleased with the direction the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is taking, and look forward to seeing all that it can continue to offer the greater Fall River area.”
“This center recognizes that when you scratch the surface of our SouthCoast economy, you find dozens of examples of startups and innovation,” added state Representative, Paul Schmid, D-Westport. “Now we bring the full power of our major educational institution behind such activities"
“This is about creating an innovation ecosystem that develops, attracts, and retains talent and ideas,” said CIE Director Tobias Stapleton. “Our region is well-positioned to be the next great growth area for Massachusetts if we are aggressive, smart, and creative in turning ideas into real jobs.”
Since opening in 2001, the ATMC graduated 40 companies that now employ more than 100 people and spin of millions of dollars of additional economic activity in the region. Recent graduates include Aquabotix, which is now manufacturing its remote underwater vehicles and video systems at21 Father DeValles Blvd / Suite 106, Fall River, MA ; Micro Magnetics, a manufacturer of products for the semiconductor industry, 617 Airport Road, Fall River, MA and Mikel, a manufacturer of undersea warfare systems, 275 Martine Street, Fall River, MA(Other graduate success examples).
Features of the new UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship include:
- A new director, Tobias Stapleton, has been hired. Stapleton most recently served as an Assistant dean at UMass Dartmouth’s Charlton College of Business, and once led theInternational Trade Assistance Center as its President/CEO.
- A new advisory board, representing the regional business and civic community, is being recruited to deepen the reservoir of expertise available at the Center.
- Partnerships with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, SouthCoast Development Partnership, and venture capital organizations.
- Conference, meeting, and training space. The CIE has been the site for a major medical electronic record training initiative by Southcoast Hospitals.
- Business Training Programs.
- Commercialization support, especially through SBIR and STTR proposals that are strengthened by university involvement.
- Prototype lab that can handle projects that are too specialized for existing machine shops in the region.
- Bio-manufacturing lab that currently serves four bio-medical startups and will partner with the UMass Biologics Lab located on Innovation Way in Fall River.