Newton Economic Development Officer Kathryn Ellis has been named director of the Innovation Institute (UMII) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and will head offices in Amherst as wells as a new office at the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst in Newton.
Ellis worked for the city for two years and will leave her position there in early July.
UMII serves as UMass Amherst’s portal for industry and is designed to increase opportunities for research support and to efficiently and effectively move research outcomes from campus laboratories into society. Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Mike Malone said the Mount Ida Campus will provide a direct link to innovative companies in the area looking to tap in to state-of-the-art facilities on the UMass Amherst campus, world class researchers affiliated with those facilities, as well as providing internship opportunities for students with Boston-based companies.
“By opening an office for the Innovation Institute on our Newton campus, we are putting out the welcome mat for innovators in the Greater Boston region to collaborate with our researchers and our students,” said Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “I am excited to welcome Kathryn Ellis to our team and have her deep connections to this work as we move forward with our plans for the Mount Ida campus.”
The goal of UMII is to have an impact on regional and national economic growth by ensuring that knowledge and technology developed at UMass Amherst is rapidly and broadly disseminated to advance the nation’s social and economic interests. Ellis replaces former UMII Director Jim Capistran, who retired in 2018 after 22 years of service.
“I am delighted to welcome Kathryn to the UMass Amherst team as UMII director,” said Mike Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement. “Her accomplishments both regionally and globally in U.S.-U.K. partnerships with strong linkage to university research are a terrific background for this role. I am also excited to expand the UMII office to Newton to increase our engagement with existing and new industry partners.”
For the past two years, Ellis has served as director of economic development for the City of Newton, working with a large number of companies that have expressed interest in bringing more workers to the area. She was also on the Newton Needham Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors.
“We’re grateful to Kathryn for her service to the businesses in Newton and look forward to continuing to collaborate with her as she works support brining innovation to Newton and the N2 Innovation District in her new role,” said Chamber President Greg Reibman.
Part of her responsibilities with the City of Newton included the management of the Newton Innovation Center, a collaborative co-working space partnered with the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber and the City of Newton.
With UMII now having offices on both the Amherst and Newton campuses, Ellis said there will be more opportunities for companies to co-exist on campus and provide live learning labs for students.
“I am delighted to have been chosen for this position, which is a fantastic opportunity to use my experience in business development while bringing in my network of industry contacts to UMass Amherst,” Ellis said. “My goal with this job is to attract highly innovative companies who can take advantage of research and development tax credits as well as the core facilities at the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst.
“Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment housed at the university can save companies in purchasing equipment, therefore reducing their capital costs while connecting with world class researchers within the UMass Amherst community,” Ellis continued. “Companies also have the opportunity to develop long relationships while recruiting students as interns who will be looking to them for jobs when they graduate. As recruitment is the biggest challenge in today’s economy this is a win-win for both UMass Amherst and the businesses. I look forward to bringing the ties closer between academia and industry.”
Prior to working for the City of Newton, Ellis co-founded a consultancy business, EDAgency, with a colleague based in Atlanta. They both grew this business to eight employees out of the Cambridge Innovation Center and provided economic development, marketing and sales support to cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Kent in the U.K. and Basel, Switzerland.
Ellis started her career as the U.S. vice president of engineering with the South West of England Regional Development Agency. Some of the projects she worked with on expansion to the United Kingdom included Boeing, GE Aviation, Curtiss Wright and Becton Dickinson. A strong link to the universities was key in a higher number of companies expanding to the U.K. as the availability of skilled workers and graduates were key attractions. Her work with some of the leading universities in the U.K. enabled cross collaborative partnerships between academia and business. Ellis’ focus was identifying U.S. companies who were looking to partner with some of these centers of excellence in the U.K., these included National Graphene Institute in Manchester, the National Composite Center in Bristol and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield.
Ellis has particular expertise in assisting companies and universities plan and implement integrated marketing and communication programs both in the U.S. and abroad. On behalf of the U.K. government, she focused both on assisting European companies, especially engineering, biotech and information technology companies, to expand to New England and U.S. companies to find a base in the European market.
Ellis is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland and has lived in the Boston area for the past 30 years.
Located in Newton, adjacent to the N2 Innovation District, and the tech-focused Route 128 corridor, the Mount Ida campus is growing its undergraduate career development programs with expanded access to internships and co-ops in the thriving Greater Boston area.
Academic programs at the Mount Ida Campus are aligned with the increasing demand for talent in areas such as health care, business, computer science, and other STEM specialties, ensuring the campus will play an important role in filling the talent pipeline that drives the Massachusetts innovation economy. Amenities on the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst are available for use by all campuses in the UMass system.