As the Roux Institute was preparing for its 2020 launch as a technology talent and innovation site in Portland, its chief administrator, Chris Mallett, found himself working the phones.
“We were reaching out to companies and saying, ‘We’re working on something pretty special for Maine and we think you’d like to be part of it,’” he recalls.
Those opening phone calls were made to major companies in Maine considered to be prospects as founding corporate partners with the institute. But Mallett and his colleagues weren’t just pitching.
“We listened and identified what it is they’re trying to do,” he says. “We worked with their leadership to understand the opportunities that made sense for their organizations. We put our teams into brainstorming mode to identify what an appropriate program or solution might be. Then we implemented that.”
Those ideas have attracted increasing numbers of corporate partners, from 10 a year ago to 54 today. The institute also has a growing number of partnerships with academia and community groups.
“We want to work with industry, with academic partners, with community partners to tackle problems and pursue opportunities,” says Mallett. “The idea is help Maine businesses invest in the development of their own workforce.”
Build talent, drive the economy
In 2020, Northeastern University in Boston launched the Roux Institute with a donation of $100 million from the Roux Family Foundation, which was established by tech entrepreneur and Lewiston native David Roux and his wife, Barbara.
The institute aims to spur innovation, build talent and drive economic growth in Portland, the state of Maine and the Northeast. Partnerships with industry, academia and government are integral to the education and research model, which covers STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas that include artificial intelligence, computer and data sciences, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences and medicine.
The goal? Align student learning with employer needs.
In November 2020, the institute opened its Portland campus, featuring 25,000 square feet of space for classrooms, study and meetings. Plans call for a permanent campus by 2024, with space for research laboratories as well as teaching.
The institute now partners with Maine companies to equip the workforce with essential technology skills and advance research and development, bringing the broader resources of Northeastern University to the table.
Bangor Savings Bank was one of the first companies to sign on.
“We think it’s great for the state of Maine and it’s great for our company,” says the bank’s president and CEO, Bob Montgomery-Rice.
In the past, the company relied on ready-made training programs. By contrast, Roux brings a full range of training tailored to the company’s needs. For example, nearly 100 employees are taking part in courses that aim to improve processes in order to meet customer needs more quickly.
“Just the day-to-day application teaches people how to think, how to be organized, how to get to what they’re doing in a more efficient way,” says Montgomery-Rice.
The institute was launched …….