New WPI Center Aims To Accelerate Smart Medical Device Production

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is opening a new medical and technology development center it hopes will speed up the production of cutting edge medical devices and therapies for patients.

PracticePoint at WPI, a public/private partnership announced Thursday, will include several testing suites to allow clinical researchers, engineers and manufacturers to more easily collaborate and commercialize robotic and other smart devices and systems.

WPI's Gregory Fischer, the director of PracticePoint, says by placing clinical environments near device makers, the cross-pollination should yield better products.

"We are going to accelerate the development of devices through implementing four suites that are equivalent to various different health care environments," Fischer said. "From surgical care, through controlled care within a hospital setting, through rehabilitative care, through residential and home care."

Fischer said products could range from new imaging devices or ICU systems to robotic technology for aging patients who want to stay in their homes. To test new products, Fischer said, the center could draw from volunteer patients in the community.

The state's Technology Collaborative is contributing $5 million for the effort, WPI is providing $9.5 million, and GE Healthcare is giving $2.5 million, a WPI spokesperson said. Other partners include UMass Medical School and the nonprofit MITRE corporation.

In a statement, Gov. Charlie Baker said PracticePoint "will help cement Massachusetts’s position as a global leader in digital health technology, by creating a unique discovery laboratory where engineers and healthcare clinicians work alongside each other to prototype, manufacture, and rapidly innovate next-generation medical devices and systems.”

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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