News 2021: UMass convenes virtual applied science summits on discoveries that could propel Massachusetts’ post-pandemic economic recovery
UMass convenes virtual applied science summits on discoveries that could propel Massachusetts’ post-pandemic economic recovery

The University of Massachusetts “zoom summits” will introduce industry leaders, their colleagues in business strategy and government relations, to some of the most important breakthroughs of recent years

BOSTON – Reflecting its historic mission of creating and disseminating knowledge, the University of Massachusetts is set to host online forums where UMass research scientists will discuss major innovations with representatives from business, industry and government. Each forum will focus on areas of UMass expertise with applications that will accelerate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

The upcoming sessions – which take place from 3:30-5:00 pm each day – will focus on the following areas:

The six focal areas were selected in consultation with academic and research officials on the UMass campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester. Each session will consist of UMass scientists highlighting recent innovations and their impact on industry, leading to discussions of the “grand challenges” that will dominate the next 5-10 years.

“At UMass, we focus on research that makes a difference, research that provides solutions, and it is vital that we keep private- and public-sector leaders apprised of our latest advances. It is also critical to our social and economic future that we discuss the challenges that lie ahead, particularly as the Commonwealth plans for its post-COVID future,” UMass President Marty Meehan said.

Business associations in the region – including the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Mass Medic, Mass Bio, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Mass Competitive Partnership and the New England Council – have alerted their member firms that the UMass zoom summits will provide insight into the technologies that will power a post-COVID recovery.

“We firmly believe that this is the time to look to the future and plan to get our world back on track,” noted the program’s organizer, Katherine Newman, System Chancellor for Academic Programs and Economic Development. “We also know that the University of Massachusetts possesses the research track record to help power New England companies in life science, robotics, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing and defense.”

UMass Chancellors Kumble Subbaswamy (Amherst), Marcelo Suárez-Orozco (Boston), Mark Fuller (Dartmouth), Jacquie Moloney (Lowell), and Michael Collins (Medical School) have a demonstrated commitment to building innovation ecosystems across their campuses and connecting research to the economic development of their regions and the Commonwealth.

The UMass research and innovation to be highlighted during the sessions includes projects relating to the development of floating offshore wind turbines, the impact climate change is having on coastal areas, the development of cybersecurity systems, the exploration of Mars, and the pioneering discoveries of RNAi and microRNA that laid the groundwork for new classes of therapeutics.

“Across the UMass system, major laboratories, research centers, and grant-funded researchers are applications that have transformed the lives of thousands through new therapeutics and medical devices,” Newman said. “We see autonomous vehicles on land and under water, robotics that help wounded soldiers recover, and strategies for protecting our coastlines from the ravages of climate change. In short, we see UMass producing research that can change the world – and we want to the world to know about it.”

Research output in the UMass system was valued at $684 million in fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which complete certified figures are available. UMass, Harvard and MIT are considered to be the state’s leading research universities.

“From our earliest days, we have understood the importance of expanding the boundaries of knowledge,” Meehan said. “We are an educational institution and we are a knowledge-creation institution.”