Coughlin spoke of how in the last several years, even as the state has lost more than 119,000 manufacturing jobs, this industry has grown by 30 percent in the shadow of an economic recession.
"We need to continue to grow the pool of talented people," he said.
Merrimack will also provide certificate courses in biotechnology and biomedical science in its School of Advanced Sciences.
"This could be for people who want to further their careers in the biotechnology industry, or we also have many recently unemployed people who want to go back to learn a field where there are jobs right now," Modica-Napolitano said.
The college will offer biotechnology training for high school biology teachers through its Graduate Institute for Teachers. And it plans to team up with Middlesex Community College, which offers an associate's degree in biotechnology, so students can make an easier transition to Merrimack to complete a bachelor's degree.
They hope to create partnerships with the area's life science companies, offering more internship opportunities and possible jobs for students.
The college used those already-emerging partnerships in building the center. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, stationed in Andover, donated more than $60,000 worth of surplus laboratory equipment. The school also received $50,000 from the Alden Trust Foundation, and a matching gift award of more than $60,000 from LI-COR Biosciences.
Students said Friday that the new laboratories will bring new opportunities.
Biology major Ashlee LaFlam, 22, of Pelham, N.H., was sad to be graduating this year after touring the center.
"This is the nicest lab I've probably ever been in," she said.
Junior biology major Emily Buck was also amazed.
"It's cool. There's a DNA sequencer," said Buck, 21, of Hampstead, N.H., pointing out the equipment. "This is huge in the industry. This is what they use in a professional lab."