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 BioConnects New England (BCNE), a multi-state coalition that aims to connect hubs throughout New England to support existing and establish new biomanufacturing infrastructure as a pathway to increase employment and educational opportunities for underserved regions and populations, and the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) announce a partnership to create a robust biomanufacturing industry cluster in the New England region.

With this partnership, BioConnects New England and MAVA aim to promote the growth and sustainability of the life sciences industry in New England through academic excellence, credentialling and certification, and strategic programming.  Additionally, BioConnects New England and MAVA will work together to engage in activities meant to strengthen the academic and talent pipeline at the secondary and post-secondary education levels to best prepare educators and students/learners for pathways and careers in biomanufacturing and the life sciences industry.

Specifically, BCNE and MAVA will pursue opportunities for vocational-technical students from MAVA institutions to earn industry-recognized and college credentials while in high school and identify individuals in the private sector and higher education willing to serve on biotechnology program advisory committees in MAVA’s vocational-technical high schools.

“Our partnership with MAVA will help to increase options for students in vocational schools,” said Michael J. Tavilla, regional economic competitiveness officer for Northeastern University and BioConnects New England.  “We’re excited to work together and build on these possibilities.”

“Our mission aligns beautifully with BioConnects New England, and we’re excited to expand the prospects of our students by showing them that a career in biotech is an option,” added Heidi T. Riccio, Ed.D., president of MAVA and superintendent director of Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School.

“We’re excited to begin this partnership with BioConnects New England,” continued Steven C. Sharek, executive director of MAVA.  “We look forward to strengthening both organizations through this relationship.”.

Through its grant challenge sponsored by the Economic Development Administration, BioConnects New England is leveraging its resources in the region to create a robust biomanufacturing industry. Massachusetts-based Northeastern University leads the coalition, which includes The Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Laboratory at Northeastern University, The Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland, Maine, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, -the I-195 Design & Innovation District in Providence, Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, and FocusMaine. The coalition will lead K-12 education and engagement activities, jumpstart prototyping and incubation facilities throughout the region, and invest in accessible start-up entrepreneurship programming.


BioConnects New England is a multi-state coalition and finalist of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge—a $1 billion program sponsored by the Economic Development Administration. Through this initiative, BioConnects New England will create a biomanufacturing cluster in regions of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island that have been historically excluded from the biotechnology industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors in New England with national importance. This coalition will connect hubs throughout New England to support existing—and establish new—biomanufacturing infrastructure as a pathway to increase employment and educational opportunities for underserved regions and populations.

For more information about BioConnects New England, please email or visit or @bioconnectsNE on Twitter or on LinkedIn.


The Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, Inc. (MAVA) is a professional association of educational leaders who administer and advocate for high-quality vocational-technical and agricultural education in Massachusetts.  MAVA is a statewide organization that includes 61 member schools, including regional vocational technical high schools, regional and county agricultural high schools, independent high schools, city vocational high schools, an educational collaborative, an academic high school, and comprehensive high schools, each of which offers at least one state-approved Chapter 74 vocational technical education program.  For more information, please visit