Massachusetts builds up its global profile in life sciences

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(Massachusetts Life Sciences Pavilion at the Bio 2014 Conference)

Building on the Commonwealth’s robust life sciences industry and long-term strategy for growth, Governor Deval Patrick announced the launch of the Universal Partnerships (UP) Program, a new initiative by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to help fund Massachusetts companies that are forming R&D collaborations with life science organizations throughout the world.

The announcement came at the 2014 BIO International Convention in San Diego, where a strong delegation of scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders and public officials made the case that Massachusetts is the best place in the world to be for the life sciences industry.

“We invest in the life sciences because we are choosing to shape our own future,” said Governor Patrick. “I commend the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center on creating this unique and forward-looking international collaboration.”

In its first year of the UP program, the Center will award grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. An eligible project will focus on a milestone within a research & development collaboration, and will consist of one Massachusetts company and one organization outside of the United States. The organization could include a company, an academic institution, a hospital or a research institute.

Through the MLSC, Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences supercluster. These investments are being made under the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, proposed by Governor Patrick in 2007, and passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick in 2008.

Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, noted, “Massachusetts is committed to seeking new models of innovation to drive future economic growth,” adding that the program “expands the footprint for collaboration across the globe.”

Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President and CEO of MLSC, said the UP program “is based on our strong belief that knowledge creation occurs worldwide and global collaboration to share that knowledge will accelerate innovation and economic development.”

“Collaboration is key in the life sciences, and the announcement of this new Universal Partnerships program is incredibly exciting,” said Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray. “I look forward to seeing the projects and businesses that result and their impact here and abroad.”

Several of Massachusetts’ overseas trading partners – United Arab Emirates, Great Britain and Japan – expressed support for the new program.

“Building and maintaining international cooperation through partnerships is a high priority for the United Arab Emirates, and specifically, DuBiotech,” said Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Executive Director of DuBiotech. “The MLSC encourages worldwide collaboration in the life sciences industry, and DuBiotech, the Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park, is proud to be a part of it.”

“One Nucleus is proud to have a highly collaborative and enjoyable relationship with Massachusetts – fuelled by a meeting with Governor Patrick in 2009 and which has seen a range of tangible activities with him, the MA Life Sciences Center and MassBIO since then for the benefit of companies on both sides of the pond. Long may it continue,” said Harriet Fear, British Business Ambassador and Chief Executive, One Nucleus.

Sachiko Yoshimura, Chief Executive Director, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO LA), said, “Japanese companies and the government of Japan have extensively invested in life sciences, and most recently are intensely focused on regenerative medicine. Establishing a flourishing relationship with MLSC will surely accelerate R&D and trade, and we very much look forward to our collaboration.” JETRO, representing the government of Japan, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment to promote business activities between the two places.

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.

For more information about Universal Partnerships, visit Massachusetts Life Sciences Center or email up@masslifesciences.com.