By Ian Thomsen
News at Northeastern
Building upon a decade of expansion through a network of campuses in the U.S. and beyond, Northeastern University, joined by technology entrepreneur David Roux, is launching a graduate education and research campus in Portland, Maine.
The Roux Institute at Northeastern University is designed to educate generations of talent for the digital and life sciences sectors, and drive sustained economic growth in Portland, the state of Maine, and northern New England.
The venture was envisioned by David and his wife Barbara Roux to benefit his native state. Inspired by Northeastern’s leadership in preparing citizens for the societal challenges posed by rapid advances in technology, the couple has invested $100 million in the university to support the Roux Institute’s future activities.
The Roux Institute, scheduled to open in the spring, will partner with leading employers in Maine and across the United States. Its graduate degree and certificate programs will focus on the practical application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the digital and life sciences to prepare people for high-demand jobs and drive research that meets industry needs—goals that the Rouxs have been pursuing for years. The Roux Institute will not offer undergraduate degrees.
“The entire Northeastern community is grateful to Dave and Barb Roux for their vision and for this transformational investment in the future of Maine,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern. “Their vision is in perfect alignment with Northeastern’s distinctive approach to education and research. The impact of the Roux Institute will reverberate across the region for generations to come. It will serve as a national model for expanding growth and innovation, and reducing inequality.”
Ten leading companies have signed on to become founding partners, which will enable the Roux Institute to quickly help people in the workforce adapt to changes created by the evolving economy.
“In this country, ambition and ability are broadly distributed, but opportunity is not,” said Roux, a native of Lewiston, Maine, who is chairman of BayPine, a private investment company, and co-founder, former chairman and co-chief executive officer of Silver Lake, the world’s largest technology-focused private equity firm. “This new institute will address that stark disparity. It will be an opportunity machine for Maine’s people and businesses at precisely the right time. And Northeastern is the ideal academic partner to make that happen. We could not be happier that the university is joining us in this mission.”
The mission of the Roux Institute is at the heart of the university’s strategic plan, Northeastern 2025—a blueprint for lifelong and experiential learning that liberates students from outdated career models and gives them the opportunity to prosper over the course of their lives.
The Portland campus will be part of Northeastern’s global university system, which includes campuses in London, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, the Bay Area, Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Nahant, and Burlington, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In recognition that Maine needs more talent in digital and life sciences, Roux has made it his goal to invest in a research and innovation ecosystem that will enable Maine-based companies to get up to speed in the digital era, encourage U.S. businesses to relocate their operations to the state, and generate startup companies.
David and Barbara Roux spent two years investigating universities throughout North America for the right partner. Aoun, whose vision for expanding Northeastern’s research impact has focused on industry and government partnerships, embraced the initiative from the start. Aoun and Roux, along with a team of Northeastern experts, have been developing plans for the institute for the past year.
The Roux Institute will make use of Northeastern’s collaborative strengths across the board—a combination of online and in-person learning for students, with a research program that creates new ideas that allow companies to thrive and grow.
The Roux Institute’s curriculum will be developed in close collaboration with the corporate partners. Research teams will be supported by world-class facilities and technology, fulfilling the Rouxs’ dream of creating an innovation and life-sciences corridor that stretches from Boston to Portland and beyond.
Founding corporate partners include:
- Bangor Savings Bank, the second-largest bank in Maine;
- IDEXX, a leader in pet healthcare innovation that provides veterinary products and services around the world;
- The Jackson Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Maine that has facilities in Connecticut, California, and Shanghai, China;
- L.L. Bean, an internationally recognized outdoor retailer;
- MaineHealth, the largest healthcare organization in Maine;
- PTC, a global software company with 6,000 employees in 30 countries;
- Thornton Tomasetti, a New York-based engineering consulting firm that has designed several of the world’s tallest buildings;
- Tilson, an international provider of network deployment and professional services to telecom, construction, utility, and government clients;
- Unum, a Fortune 500 company that provides benefits to employees of 193,000 businesses internationally;
- WEX, a global leader in financial technology that serves millions of companies.
The corporate partners have agreed to collaborate with the Roux Institute on educational and research offerings; sponsor and fund participation by employees who demonstrate high potential for advanced educational offerings; fund applied research projects and innovation initiatives; and establish innovation labs at the institute where faculty and industry experts can work together on projects.
The initial program portfolio will cover two broad disciplines: In digital technology, curricula will include applied analytics, computer science, data science, data visualization, and machine learning; in advanced life sciences, subjects will cover bioinformatics, biotechnology, genomics, health data analytics, and precision medicine.
Portland, the largest city in Maine with a metropolitan population of more than 500,000, features a growing tech economy, affordable real estate, and ready access to transportation.
“The Roux Institute represents a significant expansion of our model,” Aoun said. “In the past, we have founded campuses initially focused on lifelong learning, such as Seattle, and other campuses initially focused on research, such as Burlington. This is the first campus that integrates these two models from day one.”