The Roux Institute at Northeastern University has found a new, temporary home for its graduate school and research center on Portland’s waterfront.

The Roux Institute plans to announce Wednesday it will lease space in a new building under construction at 100 Fore St., which is adjacent to the corporate headquarters of Wex Inc. in Portland’s East End. The Roux Institute plans to open this fall offering graduate-level courses focused on artificial intelligence, including machine learning for life sciences and digital industries.

During a January news conference at the Ocean Gateway in Portland, David Roux, a Lewiston native and technology entrepreneur, announced he would put up $100 million to establish the technology research center. The investor and philanthropist said his goal was to put the state at the forefront of the advanced technology economy. Roux said the center will help grow Maine’s existing tech businesses and attract new ones.

Roux called the institute an “opportunity machine” that will give Maine employers and people the resources to compete in a rapidly evolving global technology market.

David Roux speaks in January about Northeastern University’s future technology education center in Portland, which Roux is funding. He called the institute an “opportunity machine.” The institute announced Tuesday that it has found a temporary home on Portland’s waterfront. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

“We live in an innovation economy, but we are not participating fully,” Roux said at the news conference.

Roux and his wife, Barbara Roux, made the gift from their family foundation, but at the time of their announcement, the research center was without a home.


Since then, Wex, whose corporate headquarters are located at 1 Hancock St. in Portland, offered to sublease an entire floor of its new building, under construction at 100 Fore St., to the Roux Institute. The graduate school will remain in the 26,500-square-foot space for four years or until it can find a permanent home.

Though the  84,000-square-foot building on Fore Street is still under construction it  should be ready for occupancy by this fall, said Rob Gould, Wex spokesman. Wex employees as well as other corporate partners of the Roux Institute will be among the first students to attend the innovation hub.

The institute’s new home is adjacent to Portland’s East End and Munjoy Hill neighborhoods and will be within walking distance of its 10 corporate partners, including Wex. On its website the company describes itself as a global leader in financial technology solutions, simplifying complex payments systems in the United States and around the world.

Wex’s chief executive officer, Melissa Smith, said in a statement that she became intrigued with the idea of leasing space to the Roux Institute after attending the event in January where Roux and Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University spoke. Northeastern is based in Boston.

“We are so pleased to be working with the Roux Institute to partner with them to create a space in the new building operated by Wex in downtown Portland, Maine,” Smith said. “The institute’s deep technology focus directly targets the needs of Maine’s workforce and will create a strong talent pipeline for Wex, Portland and the state as a whole. We are looking forward to having our employees attend the institute, our continued partnership, and to having them next door.”

The Roux Institute will have its own entrance in the Fore Street building. Chris Mallett, the institute’s chief administrative officer, said the graduate center plans to move into a permanent home by 2024.


“Plans for the location and development of the permanent campus remain in progress,” Mallett said in an email Tuesday evening.

The Roux Institute will offer master’s degrees and certificate programs in computer science, data analytics and advanced life sciences, including bioinformatics and biotechnology. The graduate school will feature an experiential Ph.D. program that is built around internships, fellowships and other special initiative programs focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Mallett said the school expects to serve between 50 and 75 graduate students when courses begin this fall.

Programs will be focused primarily on the needs of students, employees and employers in Maine. Curriculum and research programs will be developed in concert with Wex and other corporate partners.

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