Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is expanding into Boston’s Seaport District to tap into the synergistic potential of technology companies including Amazon, General Electric, Red Hat and Vertex Pharmaceuticals that have moved or plan to move to the waterfront area.
The private research university will open an innovation and collaboration center on Congress Street to forge partnerships around curricular and research opportunities, it announced yesterday.
WPI will use the space to host industry-centric meetings, classes, projects and events for its new neighbors that are focused on areas including health care technology, robotics, cybersecurity and big data. Those areas align with economic development opportunities that WPI is driving in Worcester, according to Stephen Flavin, WPI’s vice president and dean of academic and corporate engagement.
“It’s translating our research into applied ways that companies can grow — starting conversations with organizations on how they can partner with students and faculty to drive commercial innovation and … educating the workforce,” Flavin said.
WPI has signed a seven-year lease for a 6,400-square-foot space at 303 Congress Street, just over the Congress Street Bridge and across from the giant Hood milk bottle next to the Boston Children’s Museum. The center is scheduled to open in the fall.
WPI has been tracking the growth of the Seaport District for a couple of years, according to Flavin.
“It made logical sense to locate in the Seaport, where all that entrepreneurship and innovation is happening,” he said. “We looked at the general Greater Boston area, but we kept coming back to the Seaport for a number of reasons. It’s synergistic with what’s going on at WPI in Worcester and around the world.”
The Seaport space will also house WPI’s Boston Project Center, one of 48 around the world. WPI’s undergraduate curriculum is project-based, and students spend seven-week terms working on projects, usually with corporate partners, during their junior and senior years.
WPI students in recent years have worked on hands-on projects aimed at solving real-world problems for community and industry partners, with sponsors including the city of Boston, Boston Harbor Association, the state Department of Public Utilities and Department of Energy Resources and the New England Aquarium. The Seaport District office will give students easier access to government and non-government agencies, and industry partners the university said.