UNH Manchester making plans for alliance with ARMIBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 07. 2018 1:48AM
MANCHESTER - The University of New Hampshire at Manchester plans to renovate sixth-floor space at its Millyard building and is drafting new curriculum ideas to help meet the workforce needs of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute.
"What that sixth floor is going to have is a set of functions that are all generally supportive of the tissue biofabrication industry," Dean Mike Decelle told ARMI members at a winter summit last week.
ARMI has garnered about $294 million in government and private investment; it hopes to commercially produce tissue - and perhaps, one day, organs - to implant into sick and injured people.
"We plan to have an ARMI-related workforce training center on the sixth floor," said Decelle, who also serves as chief workforce officer at ARMI.
After his talk, Decelle said the $6 million renovation at 88 Commercial St. included $5 million from the University System of New Hampshire and a grant from ARMI. He expects construction to finish by late December.
Plans also call for establishing an incubator for several small companies.
"We think that interactions between students and industry and ARMI are a critical thing to build capacity for," Decelle said.
According to draft minutes of a recent university system board of trustees meeting, Provost Nancy Targett "described a systemwide initiative that would establish a critical mass of students in health and life sciences to meet growing NH workforce demands.
"Partnership with ARMI was discussed as an opportunity catalyst to support the university system's priority to increase program capacity in biosciences and to position NH as a leader in the emerging biosciences manufacturing sector," read the Oct. 20 minutes.
Decelle said he wants to step up offerings for students he hopes some day will work on ARMI-related projects, such as tissue biofabrication.
"We're developing a set of online classes here at UNH to take our existing online biotechnology curriculum and bringing additional elements that these curricula typically don't have, like quality systems ... regulatory practices, etc," he said.
Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Tech Council, welcomed the push to upgrade program offerings.
"With ARMI's emphasis on research and strong interest in quickly developing products, having the local connection to UNH Manchester is essential," he said. "Through internships and class projects, students can gain hands-on experience and be prepared to fill some of the jobs that will be created as a result of the work spearheaded by ARMI."
Decelle said it's too soon to know what ARMI-related products will emerge in five or 10 years.
"We're in competition as an industry for people who otherwise will apply their mechanical engineering skills or their biochemistry skills potentially to other industries, and it's our job to draw them at an early age as possible to what we're about here."