Focus on Economic Development

As President of The Lowell Development & Financial Corp. (LDFC), I am pleased to announce the creation of the Incubator Loan Fund with a total pool of $1 million. The following financial institutions are participating with the LDFC: Align Credit Union; City of Lowell; Digital Credit Union; Eastern Bank; Enterprise Bank; Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union; The Lowell Five; Sage Bank; and Washington Savings Bank. The Incubator Loan Fund targets technology and life science startup businesses looking to expand in Lowell with a priority given to those who intent to create jobs. These businesses could include, but are not limited to: information technology; social media; app companies; medical/life sciences; and companies that have participated in UMass Lowell’s incubator projects. Applicants must be referred to the LDFC by UMass Lowell’s Office of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development
Business/entity must remain in the City of Lowell, preferably within the innovation district or downtown area, throughout the term of the loan.  In the event a business/entity leaves the City of Lowell, the Incubator Loan will immediately come due and the remaining balance paid in full.
The LDCF recently approved two companies for funding: Horsepower Technologies Inc. (HTI); and Smoke-i SCBA Vision System.

HTI is located at 110 Canal Street in Lowell and is a healthcare company dedicated to combating equine lameness. HTI is focused on commercializing a revolutionary product line that significantly reduces both the rehabilitation time and incidence of lameness in racehorses and sports-horses throughout the world. Based on years of pioneering research in Massachusetts universities and defended by a robust portfolio of patents and patents-pending, HTI plans to commercialize a line of equine orthotics products. The CEO and President of the company, Mouli Ramani, serves UMass Lowell as an entrepreneur-in-residence and has provided mentoring support to several internal UMass Lowell projects. The River Hawk Venture Fund, UMass Lowell’s venture arm, has also committed funds to the company. HTI plans to commercialize two specific equine orthotic products, FastTrack © and TendonBuddy©.

Smoke-i is a thermal-imaging mask allowing firefighters to clearly see the outlines of obstacles in pitch-black settings created by Lowell native Barry Lavoie. Most devices currently used by firefighters are hand-held and cumbersome and are also very costly. Smoke-I is a face mask and imaging system. The idea is to give firefighters the ability to see in limited to zero-visibility environments, such as the interior of a structure fire.

A periscopic camera juts out from a transparent lens over the right eye of a face mask and two ventilators flank a hole over the mouth, where an oxygen tube can connect. Its three thermal-imaging settings allow firefighters to clearly see in pitch-black settings. 

Barry Lavoie, an engineer and graduate of UMass Lowell, began developing the prototype in 2011 and has traveled the country demonstrating Smoke-I for fire departments and the military. Lavoie told Fire Engineering via e-mail that the invention was inspired by Anthony Cronk, a combat veteran U.S. Marines firefighter who served in Iraq. Anthony is now active with the Lowell Fire Department. Barry's grandfather, Archie Lavoie, was also a Lowell firefighter and worked out of the Branch Street firehouse.

We are committed to keeping start-ups in Lowell. This is an important tool for us to support technology-driven economic growth in Lowell. By growing for-profit creative industries like HTI and Smoke-I we are attracting and retaining young professionals vital to economic growth. We are fostering entrepreneurism and we support new ideas that will define Lowell’s future. Read more about the Incubator Loan Fund:


Don Bedard, President
Lowell Development & Financial Corp.