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October 9, 2020

Roux Institute picks up another $100M with grant from Harold Alfond Foundation

Photo / Renee Cordes At a January launch event for the Roux Institute in Portland, Lewiston native and tech entrepreneur David Roux discusses plans for the research and teaching facility, which he helped found with a $100 million gift. Now the institute has received another $100 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

The Portland-based Roux Institute at Northeastern University said Thursday it will use a $100 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation to expand research, fund scholarships and support work cooperatives with Maine employers.

The grant is one of eight charitable gifts by the foundation, totaling $500 million for Maine schools, research institutes and other organizations, announced earlier this week.

The largest portion of the Roux grant will provide financial assistance and career support. That boost will enable Mainers and Maine companies to benefit from the institute’s graduate-study programs in fields including artificial intelligence, computer and data science, digital engineering and life sciences, according to a news release.

“This phenomenal investment from the Harold Alfond Foundation will uplift people and communities across Maine — today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, said in the release.

Northeastern launched the Roux Institute in January with the help of a previous $100 million contribution, this one from tech entrepreneur and Lewiston native David Roux and his wife, Barbara. The research facility and professional graduate school are intended to help create an "innovation hub" in Portland, focused on technology and life sciences.

In addition to the most recent grant to the Roux Institute, the Jackson Laboratory on Thursday announced plans for its own $11.8 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Those funds will support the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative, led by the Bar Harbor-based biomedical lab.

Over the next five years, the grant will help MCGI provide greater access for Mainers to novel, targeted genomic therapies for cancer, according to a separate news release.

“The Jackson Laboratory has been deeply engaged in cancer research in Maine for over 90 years,” said Edison T. Liu, president and CEO of the laboratory. “The MCGI expansion will take this impact further by bringing a range of precision therapies to Maine. Once again, through the extraordinary generosity of the Harold Alfond Foundation, we look forward to making an even greater impact on the lives of patients and their families throughout the state.”

The University of Maine System also received a grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation this week, and on Wednesday revealed some of the details.

Maine’s public six-university system will receive $240 million from the foundation over 12 years, and intends to use the money to fund a new engineering college, a graduate facility, scholarships, athletics and more, according to a news release.

The grant is the largest ever to a public institute of higher education in New England and the eighth-largest to a U.S. public institute.

FocusMaine, a business-led initiative to create jobs in high-growth fields across the state, also received a foundation grant. The $5.18 million award, to be allocated over three years, will support the organization's work to spur employment in life sciences, agriculture and aquaculture.

In addition to the Roux Institute, JAX, the UMaine System and Focus Maine, the Harold Alfond Foundation awarded grants this week to Colby College, Thomas College, the University of New England and Waterville Creates, an arts advocacy organization.  

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