A Hub for Life Sciences Manufacturing
By Laura Teicher, Executive Director, FORGE
On September 2nd, 2021, we will be launching our new FORGE Merrimack Valley presence, based out of 110 Canal Street, Lowell, MA. FORGE is beyond thrilled to join the vibrant Merrimack Valley community, and I am writing to tell you why.
Massachusetts, and the Merrimack Valley region in particular, is a growing epicenter for American bio-manufacturing. Expanding to the Merrimack Valley, FORGE will shepherd innovators with physical products to local manufacturing clusters including bio-manufacturing; surgical, medical, and electrical instrumentation and equipment manufacturing; advanced textiles and materials production; and more.
Manufacturers in the region have the potential to be a key piece in Biden’s plan
1 to ensure domestic supply chain for crucial pharmaceuticals, PPE, and other medical devices. MassBio, a not-for-profit with the mission to advance Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences explains, “to maintain our leadership in the life sciences, Massachusetts must grow beyond R&D to develop leading-edge bio-manufacturing capabilities.”
Manufacturing is solidifying the state’s leading role in life science industries.
Over the past year, we have seen a flurry of announcements from pharmaceutical leaders about opening manufacturing sites in the Merrimack Valley, establishing the region as the beating heart of Massachusetts’ biotech industry. These companies are setting up in Andover
, and beyond. They are taking advantage of the estimated 2-3 million ft2 of available biomanufacturing space in Massachusetts. Another 3 million ft2 is set to come on the market within the next 5 to 6 years.5 Massachusetts biopharma also set a record
last year, raising $5.8 billion in Venture Capital funding. Add in the proposed $3 billion technical training bill
and demand for trade-education in Lawrence and Lowell, and you have a recipe for success.
FORGE has found strong advocates and partners in Merrimack Valley, which boasts forward-looking leadership and fierce political advocates who have worked collaboratively to bring resources, including FORGE, to the region. In the words of Massachusetts Representative Tom Golden (D-Lowell): “FORGE has been a tremendous engine of growth in manufacturing in western Massachusetts and is exactly the kind of partner we need in the Greater Lowell area.”
Initial federal funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA)
anchors the launch of FORGE Merrimack Valley as part of the collaborative Massachusetts Emergency Response (MERT) 2.0
effort led by UMass Lowell. MERT 2.0 will ensure lessons learned from, and collaborations formed in response to, the pandemic are leveraged for continued and greater regional resiliency in the future, after the initial MERT helped pivoting Massachusetts manufacturers to produce over 15 million pieces of PPE in response to COVID.9 At FORGE, we enable the hometown innovators to bring physical products into local production. Merrimack Valley leaders are fighting with us to make this vision a reality.
This year’s supply chain disruptions signaled that we need to onshore more manufacturing processes, and Merrimack Valley is ready to answer this call. Thanks to its depth of manufacturing expertise and capabilities, infrastructure investments, workforce potential, and committed leaders, Merrimack Valley is buzzing with potential. At FORGE, we believe building relationships between innovators and manufacturers is key to strengthening any economy, as well as essential to our ability to respond to future crises – and we look forward to strong collaborations in Merrimack Valley to keep this state’s biotech industry on the leading edge.
As a 501c3 nonprofit, FORGE is committed to helping innovators solve tough problems and stimulating the economy through local manufacturing. To date, FORGE has made over 2,000 connections between startups and the regional supply chain, resulting in contracts and purchase orders with a known economic value of over $30 million and supporting more than 3,500 innovation and indirect manufacturing jobs.
1Asma Khalid. “Biden’s Plan To Reduce Shortages Of Products That Are Critical For National Security,” NPR. June 8, 2021. www.npr.org
2“Supporting the Rise of Biomanufacturing in Massachusetts will Ensure the Sustainability of the State of Possible,” Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, MassBio. Feb 21, 2021. www.massbio.org
3Madeline Hughes. “Andover’s piece of the vaccine: Pfizer,” Eagle Tribune. Dec 20, 2020. www.eagletribune.com
4“Thermo Fisher Scientific Investments Support Rapidly Increasing Bioprocessing Production: More than $600 million in investments will enable reliable supply of critical materials used to produce new vaccines and biologics,” Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. March 10, 2021. www.thermofisher.mediaroom.com
5Jonathon Saltzman. “Massachusetts Biopharma Firms Raised a Record $5.8 Billion in Venture Capital Last Year,” The Boston Globe. March 4,2021. www.bostonglobe.com
6Editorial. “Put Voc-Tech School Access on Priority List,” Lowell Sun. July 10, 2021. www.lowellsun.com
7Liz Neisloss. “An ‘Untapped’ Pool of Workers Could Join Massachusetts’ New Wave Of Manufacturing,” WGBH. June 22, 2021. www.wgbh.org/news
8“U.S. Department Of Commerce Invests $3.3 Million In Cares Act Recovery Assistance To Support Production Of Personal Protective Equipment And Develop Related Training In Lowell, Massachusetts,” U.S. Economic Development Administration. April 16, 2021. www.eda.gov/news/pressreleases
9“$3.3M Grant to Fuel Response to Post-Pandemic Challenges,” UMass Lowell. May 20, 2021. www.uml.edu/News/press-releases