AMHERST, Mass. – Officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst say a new state law that provides $50 million in state matching funds for institutions pursuing major research and development grants is a powerful new tool that will boost the state’s innovation economy.
The new law, part of an omnibus economic development bill, signed by Gov. Deval Patrick today after approval by the House and Senate, provides $50 million in bond funding to attract large-scale, long-term sponsored research and development activities. Half the money is reserved for UMass projects. Funds will be designated by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative with up to $1 in state funds matching $3 in approved federal or private grants.
Kumble Subbaswamy, UMass Amherst chancellor, praised the adoption of the legislation. “At a time when competition is increasing for limited funding, this law gives our scientists a significant advantage in successfully securing grants,” he said. “We will use this new resource to build on our history of success in securing investments that lead to the generation of new ideas, new technologies and new jobs for the Massachusetts innovation economy.”
The chancellor said the new law was made possible by strong support from Gov. Patrick, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki and business and technology leaders. He also cited the dedicated efforts of legislators with special thanks to Reps. Ellen Story of Amherst, Joseph Wagner of Chicopee, Tom Sannicandro of Ashland and John Scibak of South Hadley, Sens. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, Steve Brewer of Barre, Brian Joyce of Milton and Gale Candaras of Wilbraham, and the Senate and House leadership including Speaker Robert DeLeo of Winthrop and Senate President Therese Murray of Plymouth.
Mike Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement, observed, “The federal budget is tightening and other states are aggressively pursuing major R&D initiatives. This law gives UMass Amherst the ability to compete on a level playing field for funds in the life sciences, clean energy, information technology and other important fields.” Last year, UMass Amherst conducted $181 million in sponsored research, a major boost to the regional economy.
The campus has a track record of success in using state matching funds. For example, in 2003 using a $5 million state match, UMass Amherst secured a $17 million grant from the National Science Foundation in partnership with Raytheon, IBM and other companies to create the National Center on Atmospheric Sensing. It has since won an $18.6 million renewal of the original grant and garnered an additional $1.5 million in federal and industrial funding along with $6.5 million in in-kind contributions. The total for the project is more than $43 million.