URI’s Providence Biotechnology Center recognized by Tech Collective for excellence in workforce development

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – September 26, 2008 – The University of Rhode Island’s Providence Biotechnology Center was honored with the 2008 Workforce Development Award from the Tech Collective, a technology industry association in the state.

The award, which was presented at the Rhode Island Innovation Awards ceremony held in Lincoln on Sept. 18, recognizes the URI center for its “efforts and commitment to attract, develop and retain skilled technology workers in Rhode Island through providing and supporting education and training.”

“We are so very pleased to have been selected for this prestigious award,” said John McCray, vice provost for urban programs at the URI Feinstein College of Continuing Education in Providence. “This award recognizes our high success rate in graduating students and placing them in the biotechnology industry while also providing professional development opportunities for those already working in the industry. It reinforces our efforts to make URI a powerhouse in the state’s biotechnology initiative.”

Launched in 2003, the Providence Biotechnology Center is a partnership between URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the College of Continuing Education, along with the Community College of Rhode Island. It has become the base of operations for a number of workforce development programs for the biotechnology industry in Rhode Island serving future, transitioning and incumbent workers.

Through its Biotechnology Training Initiative, it works with local and regional companies to provide workers with short course lectures and hands-on workshops either at URI or on-site at a company facility. Lonza Biologics of Hopkinton, Mass., for example, recently chose the URI center as its employee training facility. According to Gregory Paquette, URI director of biotechnology and clinical laboratory science programs, the partnership with Lonza will enable the University to further expand its biotechnology manufacturing program to meet the growing needs of the industry.

The Providence Biotechnology Center’s degree programs directly train Rhode Island’s future workforce and also provide critical educational programs to teachers and high school students to increase awareness and promote careers in the biotechnology and life science industries. The center has received over $2 million in grants from federal and state agencies, as well as program support, tuition assistance and laboratory equipment from industry companies.