The Herald News, Thursday, December 3, 2015 – Page A1
By Jo C. Goode
Fall River – Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told a roomful of marine academics, researchers and business owners that going forward, Massachusetts must concentrate on developing its local marine industries and technology, and developing a “blue” economy.
Polito, who is chairwoman of the Seaport Economic Council, was one of the keynote speakers at the University of Massachusetts Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s first Maritime Innovations Conference on Wednesday. The conference highlighted current trends in the marine technology industry, grant opportunities and showcased eight marine start-up companies using cutting-edge technology, with two of those companies getting their start at UMass Dartmouth’s CIE, formerly known as Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center.
Polito said the goal, under Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, was to “make Massachusetts great from one end to the other, and that means every community in between.”
Communities, she said, must identify their strengths and natural assets that drive the economy.
“At UMass Dartmouth, what you’re showcasing today is exactly your sweet spot. You have coastline from Rhode Island coming through Fall River, New Bedford to Woods Hole. That triangle is really incredible, and it’s yours only. You own it,” Polito said.
Polito said the hallmark of success for a community is when the next generation has an opportunity to figure out career paths that can be achieved where they grew up.
“You have the opportunity to cultivate a real workforce around these industries and then attract the best and the brightest minds who want to work here,” Polito said.
Toby Stapleton, assistant vice chancellor and director for the CIE, said UMass Dartmouth has hosted in the facility’s innovation incubator a number of marine technology companies that have grown and stayed in the city as they’ve expanded.
“In fact, all the marine technology companies in Fall River started here in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Stapleton said.
Currently, there are four marine technology companies working from the CIE and “incubating,” Stapleton said.
Since UMass Dartmouth renamed the center in October, there has been an expansion of the number of companies the university is working with, and it is now encouraging more students on campus to start businesses, Stapleton said.
“Today we actually have three companies in the building that are student-developed businesses,” Stapleton said.
Bob Anderson, president of OceanServer, was showing one of his autonomous underwater vehicles that collects sonar data for researchers and companies.
Anderson said the company started at the UMass facility 12 years ago and employs 15 people. He said the company recruits UMass Dartmouth students as interns, six of whom have been hired on as engineers.
The No. 1 attraction for his company to the center, Anderson said, is the proximity of the South Watuppa Pond, where they test their underwater vehicles everyday of the year.
“That’s really our test tank,” Anderson said.