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Nuclea Partners With Colleges to Spark Life Sciences Industry
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:05PM / Thursday, November 08, 2012
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BCC President Ellen Kennedy and MCLA President Mary Grant both raved about the educational opportunities the partnership will provide.

Mayor Daniel Bianchi sees the Nuclea partnership as the start of a major industry in the city.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In what officials are heralding as the "the beginning of a life science industry," Nuclea Biotechnologies is creating a pipeline of employees by partnering with local public colleges.

Nuclea announced Thursday morning that it has installed computer clusters at both higher-education institutions and will partner for job training.

Nuclea has invested about $200,000 to install such clusters in the last two years, which will give them expertise from the faculties of Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, internships and the "pick of the litter" for employees.

The schools, in turn, are receiving top-of-the-line technology, on-the-job training for students and professional development by giving faculty more research opportunities.

"This is a true economic initiative that has many, many tentacles," said Mick Callahan, chairman of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.

In the last month, Nuclea has moved its Bioinformatics and Imaging Center into a 1,700 square-foot office in the William Stanley Business Park. State and local officials are hoping that will burgeon into an entire industry on the former General Electric land.

"The next chapter is being written right now," Mayor Daniel Bianchi said. "The William Stanley Business Park will soon be a magnet for many life science industries."

Particularly, city officials are shooting for a $6 million bond that Gov. Deval Patrick has set aside for a life science center. The academic partnership is eyed as the seed from which to grow that industry by providing the employees and technology other businesses seek.

"This is going to free up new technology and new opportunities for the PEDA site," Nuclea President Patrick Muraca said. "We've always supported education in the Berkshires."

Top: MCLA President Mary Grant talks with Nuclea CEO Patrick Muraca about the partnership.

Right: The computer cluster at the Kellogg Street office, which is made up of PlayStation 3s.

Bottom: Vice President for Information Technology Tom Weber shows off the rebuilt cluster.
With the new clusters at MCLA and BCC, the company now has four total. Their new Kellogg Street home is comprised of 35 Sony PlayStations featuring IBM Cell/BE processors, which are all linked to a massive storage unit.

The cluster can transmit large files quickly by broadband between all of the company's computers, according to Tom Weber, vice president for information technology.

From Pittsfield, Nuclea can connect with clients globally. The company specializes in medical diagnostics for facilities such as Boston Medical Center as well as research and development for the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries.

The hands-on training is hoped keep students in the county after graduating college.

"There will be opportunities here if you study and if you work hard," state Sen. Benjamin Downing said, adding that growth is based on education, innovation and technology and that this partnership provides them all.

For MCLA, the partnership brings the real-world work into a classroom in the new Center for Science and Innovation set to open in 2013.

"This partnership will make a lifetime of difference," MCLA President Mary Grant said. "We are the institutions that are preparing the next generation of innovators."

BCC President Ellen Kennedy called the partnership the "moment to inspire" and increase residents' educational attainment by not only spurring interest in the students but also retraining the current work force.

Bianchi said that for every one job created in the industry, three to five jobs are created outside of the industry and he hopes this "fresh start" for the William Stanley Business Park will revitalize the city.

"Gov. Deval Patrick wants Massachusetts to be the life science capital of the world. Our dream is to be the western part of that," Bianchi said.

From here, Callahan said the PEDA board will be reaching out to life science businesses to continue to grow that sector in the county.

"We're going to reach out to anyone who wants to do business in the Berkshires," he said.

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