Governor Baker Opens UMass Lowell’s Fabric Discovery Center, Announces $7 Million in Manufacturing Awards

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This week, Governor Charlie Baker joined leaders from UMass Lowell, national manufacturing institutes and the Massachusetts advanced manufacturing community to officially open the Fabric Discovery Center at UMass Lowell.

First launched in May 2017 through a $10 million award to UMass Lowell, the Center will drive innovation in textile research and provide a foundation for collaboration between university research, students and companies from across the Commonwealth.

Governor Baker also announced $7 million in new M2I2 grants to support six additional advanced manufacturing projects located across Massachusetts. Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) is a state program that invests in emerging advanced manufacturing projects.

Governor Baker said the new Center “will bolster the advanced manufacturing sector in the Commonwealth by promoting innovation, R&D, and advanced technologies, cementing Massachusetts’ place as a global leader in innovation. Our administration is proud of its continued support of advanced manufacturing, and these awards highlight the strong partnerships that exist between our world-class academic institutions and leading companies from across the Commonwealth and around the globe and look forward to seeing the continued progress.”

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said, “We are proud Massachusetts is making history with the Fabric Discovery Center at UMass Lowell,” adding, that the awards “represent critical investments in our state universities, growing manufacturing firms, and top research centers that call Massachusetts home. These investments in our R&D hubs are critical to enabling breakthroughs in technology throughout the Commonwealth and continuing our leadership as the #1 state for innovation.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding over five years to the M2I2 effort, which provides a vehicle for the Commonwealth to invest in the Manufacturing USA program and advance innovation and job growth through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic/training institutions. To date, the M2I2 program has made direct commitments totaling $46 million, including the $7 million in awards to the six grantees announced today by the Governor.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said the awards “continue our commitment to supporting the development of tomorrow’s technology here in Massachusetts, which will lead to the opportunities and jobs for Massachusetts students and workers. Our educational institutions are creating the foundation for new technology sectors to flourish here in Massachusetts, from R&D through to manufacturing, and we are confident Massachusetts has the talent and resources to ensure this becomes a reality.”

Under the Manufacturing USA program, Massachusetts is convening the national effort to develop revolutionary functional fibers and textiles, and participating in regional manufacturing innovation institutes in robotics, integrated photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, and biopharma manufacturing. M2I2 awards support critical research and development infrastructure in four of these sectors, working closely with each of the national manufacturing institutes, including Next Flex (flexible-hybrid electronics), AIM Photonics (integrated photonics), ARM (robotics), and Cambridge-based AFFOA (advanced functional fabrics).

Several representatives from the national institutes were on hand today, including Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of AFFOA, which was the recipient of an M2I2 grant that will support the expansion of AFFOA’s first Fabric Discovery Center, located at its national headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

According to the Manufacturing in Massachusetts, 10% of the Commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing and $26 billion in manufactured goods were exported from the Commonwealth in 2016 alone. Roughly 250,000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8 percent of the total workforce in the state.

See full press release here.

About M2I2:
Launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) aims to help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies and administers the Commonwealth’s investment in the Manufacturing USA program. The Administration has committed $100 million-plus in funding over five years to support M2I2 projects across the Commonwealth; the investments are managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M2I2 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. To learn more about the M2I2 program, including how Massachusetts manufacturers can apply for grants, visit http://m2i2.masstech.org