On Friday, March 9th in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, the Baker-Polito administration celebrated the state’s commitment to the $13.7 million Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), which will catalyze and accelerate innovation and growth of new and existing companies in western Massachusetts. The 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will enable shared research, early-stage production and commercialization, and workforce training.
The announcement was made in Council Chambers at City Hall in Pittsfield.
The Baker-Polito Administration has committed nearly $12.5 million towards the project, through a $12,025,000 total allocation from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), and the approval of $450,000 from MassDevelopment. This funding leverages an additional $1 million commitment from the City of Pittsfield, and $300,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA). The Berkshire Innovation Center will include training facilities, biotech wet lab space, clean rooms, office and event space for small to medium-sized life sciences companies to support economic growth, jobs, and private investment in region.
“Our administration is committed to supporting public-private partnerships and strategic investments that continue to improve Massachusetts’ position as a global leader in the life sciences,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Investing in the Berkshire Innovation Center will help the region attract more employers in innovation and technology, give researchers the best available tools and a collaborative environment, and train our workforce for successful life science careers in western Massachusetts.”
The Berkshire Innovation Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created to promote and accelerate the innovation and growth of existing life sciences supply chain and advanced manufacturing companies in western Massachusetts. The BIC will assist companies by enabling early-stage production and commercialization, and by fostering shared research.
“Our administration has a strong commitment to increasing educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math for students across the state,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “We are excited that this investment in the Berkshire Innovation Center will enhance the talent pipeline and provide more opportunities for people and businesses in the Berkshires.”
Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito joined Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President & CEO Travis McCready, MassDevelopment President & CEO Lauren Liss, Congressman Richard Neal, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, local and state officials, and Berkshire County business and community leaders for the celebration near the future site of the BIC at the William Stanley Business Park.
“I am thrilled to be here with our partners in this project, and incredibly proud of the immense effort and continued support that made today’s celebration possible,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “The Berkshire Innovation Center is the result of close collaboration across parties, and a strong vision for the future of the life-sciences sector in Pittsfield, and the Berkshire region.”
The BIC will bring advanced capabilities to its member companies including shared access to cutting-edge research and development and prototyping equipment, customized training programs, student internship programs, and collaborative opportunities with the BIC’s research and education partners.
“This investment in the Berkshire Innovation Center will enhance our state’s strong life sciences industry and support job creation and innovation in the region,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “We have been proud to work with our partners across state and local government, as well as the private sector, to be able to make this announcement today.”
“We’re proud to be supporting the growth and development of the life sciences throughout Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President & CEO Travis McCready. “As we move into the next generation of the MLSC, this investment in innovation in the Berkshires is a valuable component to our strategy to ensure Massachusetts continues to be home to the most verdant and productive life sciences ecosystem in the world.”
“The Commonwealth’s Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program facilitates the growth and competitiveness of the manufacturing industry through grants, contracts, and loans,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “MassDevelopment is grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for its efforts to support this key sector, and we are pleased to have played a role with the Berkshire Innovation Center”
Nearly 5,000 jobs in Berkshire Country are in the manufacturing sector, making it the fifth largest industry in the region. Manufacturing represents a key industry base in Berkshire County and is comprised of small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), which play a critical role in maintaining and growing the manufacturing strengths of Massachusetts economy.
“Having a landmark, state-of-the-art innovation center at the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield will change the landscape for advanced manufacturing R&D and for building a pipeline of highly trained employees. We know this is a key sector for economic growth opportunities. This is the future,” said Mayor Linda Tyer. “We’re proud of the city’s role in further catalyzing advanced manufacturing in Pittsfield and the region. I am exceedingly grateful to Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Polito, Secretary Ash, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for understanding the unique economic fabric of Pittsfield and the Berkshires. Without their support and guidance throughout this process we would not have achieved this milestone.”
A May 2015 report from MIT’s Industrial Performance cited the need for the Commonwealth, “to advance its efforts and maximize investments to support manufacturing in the state.” The report also emphasized that, given the prevalence of new technologies, “programs to support SMEs and build their innovation capacity need to go further. Specifically, support should be expanded to include centers, either existing or yet to be formed, that provide technological and engineering services to SMEs engaged in product and process innovation.”
“Today’s announcement marks a new and significant chapter in the growth and development of the Berkshire Innovation Center,” said BIC Chair Stephen Boyd. “The traction and support this project has received both on the ground from local stakeholders and the Baker-Polito Administration has been essential and pivotal to the BIC and the future manufacturing and economic landscape of Berkshire County.”
“It has been a sincere, collaborative effort, led by the Baker-Polito Administration, to make the Berkshire Innovation Center a reality,” said PEDA Chair Mick Callahan. “Both the mission of the BIC and our collective commitment to the continued growth in Pittsfield and the region are alive and well.”
BIC will occupy a custom 20,000-square-foot facility that is expected to be completed by July 2019. After many years in the planning, BIC has its entire construction and equipment budget committed. Project managers expect to break ground in the summer of 2018 after completing final design, permitting and construction contracting.
Numerous federal, state, and local leaders were on hand for the BIC project launch and joined in the chorus of praise to celebrate the significant milestone for the region’s life sciences innovation hub:
“Massachusetts has a proud history of being a longtime leader in the life sciences industry,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal. “Governor Baker’s commitment to continue to fund growth and opportunity at the Berkshire Innovation Center is a tremendous asset to the residents of Berkshire County and beyond. With this space, individuals and companies are able to enrich their talent pool while working on projects that are beneficial to the greater Massachusetts economy.”
“Reinventing and reinvigorating our regional economy requires strategic investments,” said Senator Adam G. Hinds. “This innovation center is just what we need to support local businesses, attract new companies and position the Berkshires for further growth in a modern economy.”
In June, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a legislative proposal to bolster Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences sector, which would provide up to $500 million over five years for strategic investments in public infrastructure, research and development, and workforce training and education, including up to $295 million in capital authorization and up to $150 million in job-creating tax incentives. The funding will continue to be managed by the MLSC, which is co-chaired by Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an economic development investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts, home to the most verdant and productive life sciences ecosystem in the world. Through public-private funding initiatives, the MLSC supports innovation, research & development, commercialization, and manufacturing activities in the fields of biopharma, medical device, diagnostics, and digital health. Since its creation in 2007, the MLSC has strategically deployed over $700 million in Massachusetts, through a combination of grants, loans, capital infrastructure investments, tax incentives, and workforce programs. These investments have created thousands of jobs, and propelled the development of new therapies, devices, and scientific advancements that are improving patient health and well-being in Massachusetts and beyond.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2017, MassDevelopment financed or managed 377 projects generating investment of more than $4.3 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 9,488 jobs and build or rehabilitate 1,863 residential units.