Changing with the local plastics industry, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell's plastics engineering department is trying to help the state's inventors and small companies with the launch of the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center.
The 20,000-square-foot facility has offices, laboratory facilities, processing and machining capabilities. The site recently opened to help new companies with research and development.
``Since 9-11, venture capital has moved to more conservative investments, so a lot of inventions are not getting developed. So this is to help companies to get venture money,'' said Steve McCarthy, a professor of plastics engineering at UMass Lowell and a co-director of the center.
He said the new center, nicknamed ``M2D2,'' lets companies, especially new ones, use the services of UMass Lowell and the UMass Medical Center in Worcester. The center was started with a grant from the UMass president's office, evolving from what was the Institute for Plastic Innovation.
So far, three companies are planning to take advantage of the new center. Not all are plastics companies, but some will use plastic to make devices.
McCarthy said that first tenant, Perfusion Technology LLC, is working on a technique to treat brain cancer. Two other companies are considering the center - one is working on a dialysis catheter, while the other is testing designs on a new ostomy bag.
He said M2D2 gives tenants office space, as well as processing and machining areas. A clean room is in the planning for next year. Companies also can use the UMass Medical School in Worcester for lab trials.
McCarthy said Massachusetts is encouraging local companies to tackle the medical-device market, and to stay in the state.
He said the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council, a group with more than 300 members that represents the state's medical device industry, also is boosting the effort.
``We've actually started teaching a lot of courses, and a certificate in medical plastics was added last September to address the need,'' he said.