BASF celebrates 10 years of its Northeast Research Alliance in the US

31 May 2023

BASF celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Northeast Research Alliance (NORA) with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst at a two-day conference at the headquarters of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program in Cambridge, USA.

Representatives from BASF, Harvard, MIT, UMass as well as Greentown Labs, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation came together at the interface of technology, business, and society to discuss sustainability, circularity and the translation of research from the lab to societal impact. At the conference, BASF announced its plans to expand the scope of NORA to include additional partners such as startups, accelerators, customers, research institutes and other universities across North America to strengthen its innovation ecosystem. NORA will stand for the North America Open Research Alliance moving forward.

“We are very proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NORA, as it is a great example of the importance and success of interdisciplinary research alliances for developing next generation technologies,” said Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer of BASF. “Innovation networks are continuously growing here in North America, supported by greater digital infrastructure and governmental support. We are very happy to be part of this and looking forward to expanding the network of NORA to continue driving innovations towards a more sustainable future.”

“The research alliance between Harvard and BASF for more than a decade has served as a powerful model of the breakthrough applied research that can be enabled when industry and academia work together,” said David Hwang, Dean for Research at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “We are grateful for this highly productive collaboration with BASF and our other academic partners as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of NORA and look forward to working together to accelerate translational science in the years ahead.”

Since its inception, NORA has evolved to stay competitive and drive innovation in the Massachusetts ecosystem. It expanded from a single university model with Harvard in 2008 to include MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013. NORA continued to expand in 2017 through BASF’s partnership with Greentown Labs – the largest climatetech startup incubator in North America –based in nearby Somerville, USA.

“Harvard, MIT, UMass and Greentown Labs will continue to play a leading role in the partnership between BASF and the broader innovation ecosystem in North America,” said Dr. Detlef Kratz, President of Group Research, BASF. “Through the expansion of NORA, we will continue to keep our fingers on the pulse of innovation in North America and benefit from the strong entrepreneurial spirit in the region.”

NORA outcomes

Over the last 10 years, NORA has initiated a total of 114 research projects in several fields, including advanced materials, 3D printing, micro- and nanostructured materials, digitalisation, catalysis, synthetic biology and advances in sustainable chemistry, such as a greater understanding of microplastics and the interplay of chemistry and biodegradation of materials in the environment. More than 100 postdocs and students and 47 faculty members have been involved in these projects, closely collaborating with key experts within BASF. The collaborations have also generated more than 46 patents and 42 peer-reviewed publications.

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