College of Engineering

Umd Receives $600,000 Grant From Nsf To Develop Partnerships For Innovation With Industry


For immediate release: June 11, 2004
Contact: Farhad Azadivar, Dean, College of Engineering
Tel: 508-999-8539
Dr. Thomas Curry, ATMC Director
Tel: (508) 999 - 9119


DARTMOUTH, MA. - The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced that it has received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support new partnerships for innovation between the University and businesses in the region. This announcement culminates a multi-year effort led by Engineering Dean Farhad Azadivar. It involves working with companies through the University's Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center (ATMC) to develop innovative new products and production processes.

A total of 10 companies so far have expressed their desires to partner with the University in this program and have pledged an additional $500,000 worth of innovative projects to be undertaken at ATMC. It is expected that more companies will join this partnership in the near future. The UMass Dartmouth proposal was one of only 17 proposals funded by the NSF from a nationally competitive pool of 204 proposals.

"This award is an exciting example of how UMass-based innovation powers the economy of this region," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "The public and private investments made in UMass create teaching and research excellence that attracts additional investments, in this case from the National Science Foundation and job creating companies in our community. The result is a constant flow of new ideas that create inspiring learning opportunities for our students and a bright economic future for our citizens."

The Partnership For Innovation (PFI) project will be operated by ATMC through a series of partnerships with state and federal agencies and private sector companies. The goal is to develop innovative new technologies that will be transferred to existing industries and new start-up businesses. The main focus will be research conducted by UMass Dartmouth faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students in newly developed laboratories at the ATMC and at the university's main campus.  

A unique feature of the PFI project is that it will enable the ATMC to operate in a manner similar to a teaching and research hospital. In these hospitals, medical student-interns team up with university faculty researchers, as well as members of the professional staff of the hospital, to conduct state-of-the-art research driven by real needs in the community. In this PFI initiative, teams of UMass Dartmouth graduate and undergraduate student-interns and ATMC professional staff will contribute to the hardening of the innovative technologies developed by UMD faculty researchers for commercialization purposes.  

"The advantage of getting students heavily involved in these innovative projects is that after each project is complete one or more graduates will also be ready to be transferred, as well, to the client company to guarantee the success of the new product or process." said Dean Azadivar.

"This grant supports several of the strategic priorities of the ATMC by enhancing the ATMC's ongoing activities in establishing partnerships with regional industries, providing research collaborations between faculty and regional companies and expanding experiential learning for students" said Dr. Thomas Curry, Director of the ATMC.

The ATMC has specialty research laboratories, prototyping facilities, a conference center, and a business incubator to assist new start-up companies. It also employs a professional staff of engineers, technicians, and support personnel.

During the initial months, the NSF funds will support part of the cost of the projects conducted for partners. It is expected that at the end of the NSF funding period, the revenues from industry-based contracts will be sufficient not only to replace NSF's start-up funds, but also to pay for the expansion of the center?s activities.

With the NSF support, these innovative partnerships are expected to generate a significant number of pioneering new technologies developed by the University and licensed to companies for commercialization into products, processes, systems, and services. The PFI project will also further develop and prototype a unique model for the integration of university-industry partnerships for innovation with a creative opportunity for professional labor force development.

Other companies interested in being part of this partnership may contact Farhad Azadivar Dean of College of Engineering at (508) 999 - 8539 or Dr. Thomas Curry, Director of the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center at (508) 999 - 9119.

Author: "Paul Vigeant"
Date: 11-6-2004

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