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Secretary Gregory Bialecki, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

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Secretary Gregory Bialecki, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

How is it that Massachusetts has so many innovative ideas? Most people would give the credit to our great research universities. While they do deserve a lot of credit, there are also innovative ideas emerging all the time from our great independent non-profit research institutions (like the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and from our great corporate Research & Development centers.

The Governor and I had a chance to attend the grand opening of Saint Gobain’s global R&D global headquarters in Northborough last week.

Saint gobain photo

 Governor Patrick lends a hand at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Saint-Gobain R&D Center.

 

This new facility represents a $15 million expansion of an existing 26-acre site in Northborough. Of the company’s four research centers worldwide, the Northborough site is the largest. The building offers a team of 200 scientists and engineers 60,000 square feet of new laboratory and office space wherein to conduct research into building materials, plastics, ceramics and abrasives, as well as the development of state-of-the-art technology to promote energy efficiency in buildings. The company’s products have a variety of uses, from household use to commercial/industrial applications—including use by NASA and the international space station and, locally, in the construction of the new Northborough R&D center.

Designed by local architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, and constructed by A.J. Martini, the new building itself is an innovation.  Making unprecedented use of Saint Gobain building products, it is anticipated to receive a prestigious Gold Rating in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED(R) "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" energy efficiency rating program—which very few buildings in New England have received. Rakesh Kapoor, director of the new center, estimated the facility is in the top 10 percent of energy efficient buildings in the United States.

To my original point, Saint Gobain is well aware of all the work performed at our universities. Alain Zanoli, VP of R&D for the company, cited Massachusetts universities' (and the well-equipped workforce they help generate) as one of the reasons Saint Gobain decided to open the center in Massachusetts. In fact, several research institutes have partnered with Saint Gobain on this project.

This announcement, which received coverage by the Telegram , MetroWest Daily News , and NECN is just one of countless examples of how Massachusetts’ reputation as a place that is conducive to fostering innovation attracts investments from like-minded institutions and corporations.

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