Grant Made Possible through MassTech’s Collaborative R&D Matching Grant Program;
Will Help Create a One-Stop Support System for Innovators Developing Small Spacecraft and Satellites
WESTBOROUGH, MASS. – Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the Innovation Institute at MassTech announced a new award totaling $5,496,701 to UMass Lowell through MassTech’s Collaborative R&D Matching Grant Program to establish the Massachusetts Alliance for Space Technology & Sciences (MASTS), a new research hub at UMass Lowell focused on space technology. The Alliance, which is a consortium of research universities, colleges, and corporations from across the globe, will be led by UMass Lowell. The funds will support a two-year project, boosted by over $10 million in match funds from outside partners, which will enable the development of a one-stop support system for innovators working on small spacecraft.
“Massachusetts has a strong tech and innovation legacy, and the MASTS project leverages that history to ensure our state remains at the forefront of the new space age,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This funding will help Massachusetts attract and retain talent, drive innovation, and enable private sector companies to test cutting-edge technologies that will open up new frontiers in space.”
“UMass Lowell has established itself as a leader in R&D and innovation around the technologies of tomorrow,” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. “This project will help develop a strong talent pipeline for this emerging field, building a direct line from community college to Ph.D. programs and into good private sector jobs.”
This award builds upon Massachusetts’ existing regional strengths in key space technology areas, including Internet of Things, advanced optics, materials, antennas, low-cost sensors for UAV and space applications, and computing systems built around data analytics and algorithms. The MASTS project will allow the state to leverage this existing expertise to grow the aerospace and defense sectors, strengthen the multibillion-dollar small satellite market, and support research opportunities in the development of nanosatellites and satellite constellations.
“The original space program led to the development of game-changing technologies that drove innovations across industry,” said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. “This investment in MASTS will ensure that Massachusetts companies play an important role in the new space age by driving improvements to global communication networks and developing cutting-edge defense and space technologies.”
The funds will support key infrastructure investments at the UMass Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology, including the construction of a design facility for nanosatellites and satellite constellations with integrated technologies such as imaging equipment, sensors, and communication electronics; and the build out of specialized shared-access equipment to enable the testing and validation of critical systems related to space and satellite technologies. The funds will also enable Massachusetts-based Nanoracks LLC to design, build, test, and fly a new satellite prototype called Chickadee, a project named after the Massachusetts state bird. In addition to the scientific and technical discoveries these capabilities will have within space technology and small satellite markets, the technologies developed will likely result in the creation of new companies in related fields such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), marine robotics, and other autonomous systems.
UMass Lowell expects that this investment will enable them to expand the Alliance, which is currently comprised of 22 organizations, including aerospace and defense companies, global research universities, Massachusetts community colleges, and research-focused non-profits:
- Research Universities: UMass Boston, Boston University, MIT, University of Arizona, United Arab Emirates University, University of New Brunswick;
- Mass. Community Colleges: Holyoke Community College, Middlesex Community College;
- Large Corporations: Analog Devices; Lockheed Martin; BAE Systems;
- Research-Focused SMEs: AstronetX, Boston Micro Machines, Greensight, Nanoracks, Si2 Technologies, 4C Test Systems; and
- Research-focused Non-Profits: MITRE Corporation, Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, NASA Wallops Flight Facility; CASTRA, a Bulgarian Consortium.
“UMass Lowell is excited to match our expertise with the goals of the Healey-Driscoll administration and join new and long-time partners to launch the state’s space technology research hub,” said Chancellor Julie Chen. “We’re proud of our track record of collaboration and the impact of our research and we’re extremely grateful for the ongoing support of Gov. Healey and Lt. Gov. Driscoll.”
“Massachusetts has been a leader in space research and the MASTS project will increase the visibility and research capabilities of growing companies in the sector, helping promote economic opportunities and new jobs,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “MASTS will not only help small businesses attract private sector investment, but it will also make Massachusetts organizations more competitive in funding opportunities at the national level, from organizations such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the DOD.”
The Collaborative R&D Matching Grant program, managed by the Innovation Institute at MassTech, has awarded nearly $60 million to projects statewide that have leveraged more than $180 million in matching contributions to date from outside partners. This includes 20 projects that have supported innovative industry and academic collaborations and investments in novel R&D infrastructure to bolster the Massachusetts tech and innovation economy. Emerging industries supported through the grant program include cloud computing, marine robotics, printed electronics, cybersecurity and data science, and nanomaterials and smart sensors. These investments have led to the formation of more than 80 new industry partnerships and nearly 60 intellectual property and licensing agreements in the past two years.
"Establishing the Massachusetts Alliance for Space & Technology & Sciences research hub at UMass Lowell is a testament to the proud history of innovation shared by the city and university,” said State Senator Edward J. Kennedy. “As the aerospace and defense industries maintain their growth, the MASTS research hub guarantees the university, City of Lowell, and Commonwealth will remain on the cutting edge."
“This funding for a space technology research hub will put UMass Lowell on yet another trajectory to success in research and innovation technology,” said State Representative Rodney Elliott. “This collaboration with renowned universities and corporate sponsors will lead to the creation of new companies and economic opportunities for our region.”
"These funds will invest and support key infrastructure and cutting-edge sectors like UMass Lowell Center to launch the state's space technology research hub. Thank you to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for investing in our country's national security and the growing economy in Massachusetts and across this country," said State Representative Vanna Howard.
Organizations interested in applying to the Collaborative R&D Matching Grant can learn more at https://masstech.org/collaborative-research-matching-grant-program-solicitation.
About the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
The MassTech Collaborative is a quasi-public economic development agency that strengthens the competitiveness of the tech and innovation economy by driving strategic investments, partnerships, and insights that harness the talent of Massachusetts. The Innovation Institute is the division of MassTech that advances its core mission of innovation and cluster growth across the Commonwealth. Created in 2003, the Innovation Institute intervenes in the economy in the following four ways:
- Conducts research and analysis that improves the state’s understandings of unmet needs and opportunities in the innovation economy;
- Serves as convener and key strategic broker on the landscape;
- Manages high-value projects on behalf of the Commonwealth; and
- Makes strategic investments in support of innovation-based economic development.
For more information, visit https://innovation.masstech.org/.
About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu