Governor Raimondo and URI President Dooley Announce Second Round of Rhode Island Innovation Campus Projects

Governor Gina Raimondo joined with University of Rhode Island President David Dooley to announce the second round of RI Innovation Campus projects that will catalyze academic research into new commercial products and businesses.

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Governor Gina Raimondo today joined with University of Rhode Island (URI) President David Dooley to announce the second round of RI Innovation Campus projects that will catalyze academic research into new commercial products and businesses. The two additional campuses are expected to create hundreds of jobs in rapidly-growing advanced industries including advanced materials manufacturing and gene therapy.

The two Innovation Campuses announced today, expected to be located in Kingston, Portsmouth, and Providence, will be supported by a bond approved by voters in November 2016. Private investment in these two projects is expected to be more than $12 million, which is five times the state’s pledged investment. A first round of Innovation Campus projects was announced in December 2018.

“Innovation isn’t a relic of Rhode Island’s past, it is the key to our future,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “The projects we announced today as part of our second round of Innovation Campus funding will create jobs, foster creativity and development in key sectors, and stimulate our economy. Advanced materials manufacturing and gene therapy are industries of tomorrow, and I’m thrilled that we’re investing in their growth today.”

“The University of Rhode Island continues to contribute to the innovation and growth of Rhode Island’s economy with two new innovation campuses announced today,” said David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island. “401 Tech Bridge builds on the university’s expertise in advanced materials and manufacturing with the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and Polaris MEP to create a center where manufacturers, small businesses, research and development entities, trade organizations, state agencies, and defense agencies will innovate and rapidly develop new advanced materials and composites technology for real world applications. The Cell Therapy Training Institute will accelerate the education and training of the University’s nursing and pharmacy students, faculty and staff in the delivery of immune-oncology. Innovation Campuses provide the facilities and programs necessary to foster scientific collaboration, educational advancements, and technical training to serve the residents of Rhode Island and innovate industries to support growth and prosperity in our economy.”

“These two projects capitalize on one of Rhode Island’s greatest strengths, our tremendous capacity for academic research and development, to promote job growth in new and innovative industries,” said President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio. “Investment in these growing fields helps to position our state as a hub for advanced industries and provides tremendous opportunities for Rhode Islanders.”

“This program is helping to create and catalyze multiple centers of innovation across our state,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “These exciting projects are attracting private investment and, in the future, will turn research into commercial activity and produce new high-tech and high-paying jobs. Thank you to Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly for their leadership on this initiative and to the University of Rhode Island for their partnership. We look forward to the resulting increased economic activity for generations to come.”

The next step in the process involves negotiation of agreements between the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, URI, and each of the successful projects. Today’s announced recipients are:

The “401 Tech Bridge” – The Rhode Island Materials Innovation Center

The University of Rhode Island will partner with POLARIS MEP, Toray, Composites One, Hope Global, the International Yacht Restoration School of Technology and Trades (IYRS), the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), the Composites Alliance of RI (CARI), the Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network (RITIN), the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA), and DESIGNxRI to create a one-of-a-kind, catalytic center focused on innovation in advanced textiles and composites.
Industry partners will be able to work in the 401 Tech Bridge Center with entities such as the Navy or agencies such as the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) to explore textile and composite projects for rapid development and deployment. The 401 Tech Bridge is projected to create hundreds of jobs over the first ten years of operation.
The Catalytic Center will provide opportunities and resources to galvanize technology commercialization efforts required to meet the quickly changing demands for national defense, infrastructure and healthcare. 401 Tech Bridge would make Rhode Island a focal point of materials research and development in the NorthEast, create a competitive economic advantage, and provide a model for commercialization centers nationwide.
Polaris MEP will be awarded $1.0 million from the Innovation Campus bond and will receive and invest more than $5 million in matching funds from other sources including the US Department of Commerce.
“We could not be more excited for this project to progress materials technology through a critical ecosystem of partnerships. With this and other potential funding, we look forward to partnering in cooperative activities with URI, the US Navy, and industry through the 401 Tech Bridge.” said Christian Cowan Polaris MEP Center Director. “Rhode Island has a rich history of textile and composite manufacturing, and the 401 Tech Bridge Materials Innovation Center brings together industry, government and academia to develop new products and quickly commercialize through those partners. We are excited to build and test new innovative materials solutions for the State of RI and for the world.”

The Rhode Island Cell Therapy Training Institute

The University of Rhode Island will partner with Roger Williams Medical Center (RWMC) to form the Rhode Island Cell Therapy Training Institute (RI-CTTI) within the Rhode Island CAR-T Design and Development Center, to foster accelerated, critically needed immunotherapy manufacturing in coordination with critical clinical studies. The goal of the Center is to accelerate immuno-oncology innovation in the state and serve as a critical magnet to draw biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to Rhode Island.

The State portion of the funding of this project totals $1.4 million. Roger Williams Medical Center, and its corporate parent CharterCARE Health Partners will provide at least $7 million of matching contributions over the life of the project. The facility will be located on the Roger Williams Medical Center campus in Providence. There will also be a jointly managed URI/RWMC research program conducted within the Rhode Island CAR-T Design and Development Center and on the URI campus. An immunotherapy nursing program will be established within the URI College of Nursing, along with a cell manufacturing technician training program at URI.

The RI-CTTI will employ 22 full-time employees over the course of the project. Four additional FTEs for URI will be added during the project period.

“CharterCARE Health Partners is pleased to offer its experience and leadership in cancer immunotherapy, in addition to a significant private capital commitment from Prospect Medical Holdings, to collaborate with URI in development of new cancer immunotherapy training programs and an exciting research collaboration that we hope will lead to the discovery of new treatments for patients in need,” said Jeffrey Liebman, CEO, CharterCARE Health Partners.

“We are thrilled to work with URI in establishing this new research program and immunotherapy nurse training program which will benefit cancer patients, the University, our hospital, and the State for many years to come,” said Dr. Steven Katz, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director, Office of Therapeutic Development, Roger Williams Medical Center.

The Rhode Island Executive Office of Commerce in partnership with the University of Rhode Island received 16 responses to a request for proposals (RFP) for RI Innovation Campuses that was issued in December 2017. The RFP called for parties in academia and industry to come together to create a transformative Innovation Campus or campuses in Rhode Island that would turn academic research into new commercial products, businesses, and jobs.

In December of 2018, Governor Raimondo and URI President Dooley announced the first round of RI Innovation Campus projects. With today’s announcement, $14.4 million of the $20 million bond approved by Rhode Island voters to create Innovation Campuses affiliated with URI has been allocated.

The five innovation campuses chosen have also expressed a strong interest in linking their activities and expertise together over time as they gain momentum, in effect creating a large and growing innovation network that will power the University of Rhode Island and the state of Rhode Island into the future.

As the state of Rhode Island’s public research university and a critical partner in economic development and growth, URI offers more than 90 undergraduate and more than 70 graduate programs, including leading programs in engineering, health, business, oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences.