David Roux, a technology entrepreneur who hails from Lewiston, is behind a Northeastern University institute that is based in Portland and is being touted as the center of a new innovation hub within Maine. So far $200 million has been invested in the institute by Roux and the Alfond Foundation. Credit: Lori Valigra / BDN

The Roux Institute, a new graduate school and research center in Portland, outlined its three-year plan on Tuesday to attract 1,000 students and create 200 cooperative learning slots at Maine companies.

The institute, started last January and named after donors David Roux, a wealthy technology investor and a Lewiston native, and his wife Barbara, aims to help relieve the state’s critical workforce shortage and help businesses retain talented workers. Teaching is initially focused on life science and medicine, engineering and data visualization, all incorporating elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Roux family is investing $100 million in the institute, which is a branch campus of Boston-based Northeastern University. Last October the Harold Alfond Foundation kicked in another $100 million, $63 million of which will be used for scholarships over the next decade. The remaining funds will be used to subsidize cooperative programs in which students spend between four and six months at a local company getting experience with paid work.

“The scholarships will help attract graduate students to the institute — about 1,000 in the first three years — and make the cost of attendance affordable,” Chris Mallett, chief administrative officer of the institute, told businesspeople at a Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce online meeting on Tuesday.

The institute, located at 100 Fore St. in Portland, started classes last fall and is about to begin its second group of students to total 200 graduate students so far. It has 45 employees that it plans to expand to 75 this summer, Mallett said, most of whom will live and work in the Portland area. It also plans to hire 50 postdoctoral researchers over the next five years and partner with 60 startups.

Mallett said the Roux Institute differs from other higher education institutes in that it partners with local companies to give students hands-on experience, provides companies with potential workers and offers business employees continuing education. It has more than 30 corporate partners, including IDEXX Laboratories of Westbrook.

Lyndsey Anderson, human resources program manager at IDEXX, was accepted into the Roux Institute’s analytics program in the fall. Anderson wanted to pursue a business or human resource management degree and thought the Roux program’s data analysis and visualization would help improve her current job performance and ability to advance.

Anderson said some of her classmates have returned to Maine to attend the institute after having moved to Boston or New York.

“I grew up in Maine and I don’t want to leave Maine,” she said. “The program is being crafted here and is a really fantastic opportunity for Maine professionals to get involved in research and learn about specialised areas they may not have had access to otherwise.”