Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Funds Two Grants for Western Mass
Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick and other luminaries announced that the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (“MLSC”) will fund a $95 Million project at UMass and a $5.5 Million project at Baystate Health. Although ten speakers weighed in on this yesterday at the press conference, none told the beginning of the story.
Governor Patrick unveiled his $1 Billion Life Science Initiative during BIO 2007 in Boston. Shortly thereafter, the Legislature got to work on the bill to authorize the Life Science Center. Then-State Senator Steve Buoniconti contacted Jeff Ciuffreda and Mike Graney from the EDC and told us that he wanted to ensure that Western Mass got its fair share in the life science bill. He promised to convene political leaders around the table if we would convene industry leaders and together we would craft the Western Mass piece of the legislation.
Senator Buoniconti delivered (at the time) Majority Leader (now President of MassBio) Bob Coughlin, Senator Gale Candaras and Representatives John Scibak and Sean Curran, among others. We invited regional academic, health care, biotech and medical device leaders to join them for a series of roundtables in the EDC Conference Room. Our group recommended that two earmarks be inserted into the legislation. One was for $95 Million for UMass and the other was for $5.5 Million for Baystate Health at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute. Senator Buoniconti and his colleagues were able to include the Western Mass priorities in the MLSC legislation, which the Governor signed in 2008.
Both projects went through five years of twists and turns, but yesterday they came to fruition. As MLSC President Susan Windham-Bannister noted in her remarks yesterday, “Sometimes these projects take time to happen”. But they had to start somewhere.