Kamen to lead $294M effort in Manchester Millyard to grow human organs on industrial scale
Backed with close to $300 million in government and research money, Manchester inventor Dean Kamen pledged Wednesday to pull together disparate research efforts and create an industry to regenerate human tissue and organs — right in the Manchester Millyard.
Kamen addressed a gathering of industry, government and academic leaders at the White House on Wednesday. He spoke after the Defense Department officials announced that Manchester would host the country’s 12th manufacturing innovation hub.
The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (or ARMI) will be located in Kamen property at 400 Commercial St.
In a statement, the Defense Department said $80 million in federal funding and $214 million from industry, university, nonprofit and other sources would be devoted to the effort.
Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall said the acceleration of regenerative tissue research is especially important to the Defense Department. It will restore form, function and appearance to wounded soldiers and it will reduce the waiting time for organ transplant patients.
During his remarks, Kamen stressed he knows little of the science behind tissue regeneration. He painted a picture of vibrant research underway in the field, but a lack of infrastructure to bring it to the manufacturing phase.
“We need to essentially make the printing press for the world of regenerative medicine,” said Kamen, the inventor of the portable kidney dialysis machine and high-tech prosthetics. “We will promise the government we will turn this science into an industry.”
In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Kamen said he expects 100 people will be working at the ARMI headquarters within a year’s time. He said hundreds of other jobs will eventually be created nearby at corporate offices, research facilities and entrepreneurial spin-offs.
“We are going to so vastly accelerate the access to advanced technology that this will be the biggest single change in medicine in the lifetime of the people here,” Kamen told the White House crowd.
During his presentation, he flashed a picture of the Manchester Millyard and noted how at one point it was the largest manufacturing entity in the country, but eventually closed because it did not continue innovation.
The Defense Department said ARMI was selected in a highly competitive process to find an organization to lead efforts in advance tissue biofabrication. ARMI signed a seven-year contract with the Defense Department on Monday.
The Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Institute is under the umbrella of Manufacturing USA, a government/industry collaboration started by the Obama administration. Twelve institutes have been established; others include a 3-D printing initiative based in Youngstown, Ohio, and a phototonics effort in Rochester, N.Y., which led to 800 manufacturing jobs.
The Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Institute is comprised of 47 companies and 26 universities in 19 states. Players include Rockwell Automation, GenCure, Autodesk, Dartmouth College, Stanford University, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of New Hampshire.
In a statement, UNH President Mark Huddleston said the university’s life sciences research, education and workforce development programs will take part in the effort.
“Our UNH Manchester campus in the Amoskeag Millyard is co-located with DEKA and ARMI headquarters, supporting efficient communication and coordination,” he said.
Kamen said ARMI will be a nonprofit organization that will coordinate efforts in the private sector. He will serve as the chairman of the organization; negotiations are underway for a chief executive officer.
In a statement, U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Sen.-elect Maggie Hassan said the government grant further establishes New Hampshire as a hub for research and development.
“This award will bring good jobs to Manchester, complementing our region’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. This is a very exciting opportunity for our state’s college graduates to work on the cutting edge of biomedical research,” the statement reads.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he was unaware of the effort, but said he looks forward to speaking to Kamen in the coming weeks. He said it shows the commitment Kamen has to the city, noting his funding of the Junior STEAM Ahead program in city schools.
“I’m sure the Millyard can handle it, and I’m sure the work force is here to help him out,” Gatsas said.
Video of the Manufacturing USA Stakeholder Event. Dean Kamen's remarks begin shortly after the 1-hour, 12-minute mark: