Massachusetts Selected to Lead National Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Gov. Baker
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CAMBRIDGE – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to announce that Massachusetts will serve as the national center for the nation’s first Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), an independent nonprofit founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been selected to run a new, $317 million public-private partnership announced today by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The AFFOA-led project is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a federal advanced manufacturing initiative. Key participants in the project include MIT, the University of Massachusetts, Quinsigamond Community College, and fiber and textile industry partners throughout the Commonwealth. The institute also includes several other key public and private sector partners from across the nation, focused on a common goal of revolutionary fiber and textile manufacturing.

As part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to innovation in advanced manufacturing, the Baker-Polito Administration is pledging $40 million in matching funds to support capital projects at the Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Gov. Baker
Gov. Baker

“Massachusetts’s innovation ecosystem is reshaping the way that people interact with the world around them,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This manufacturing innovation institute will be the national leader in developing and commercializing textiles with extraordinary properties. It will extend our ongoing efforts to nurture emerging industries, and grow them to scale in Massachusetts to an exciting new field. And it will serve as a vital piece of innovation infrastructure, to support the development of the next generation of manufacturing technology, and the development of a highly skilled workforce.”

“Through this manufacturing innovation institute, Massachusetts researchers and Massachusetts employers will collaborate to unlock new advances in military technology, medical care, wearable technology, and fashion,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This, in turn, will help drive business expansion, support the competitiveness of local manufacturers, and create new employment opportunities for residents across the Commonwealth.”

“The combination of public and private institutions leading this effort only reinforces Massachusetts as a national leader in innovation and education,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “This innovation institute will grow our advanced manufacturing sector across the entire state while investing in emerging technology to grow jobs and businesses for our workforce.”

“I am incredibly proud of the House’s longstanding investments in manufacturing which I believe have helped make Massachusetts is a national leader in this dynamic sector,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “The manufacturing industry will be a driver in employing residents of all skillsets, bringing together innovation industries with more traditional sectors, and spreading prosperity to all corners of the Commonwealth. I congratulate MIT, UMass and Quinsigamond Community College. I look forward to working with the Baker and Obama Administrations as we experience the incredible potential of this partnership.”

“Fibers and fabrics are among the earliest forms of human expression, yet have changed very little over the course of history,” said Professor Yoel Fink, director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the director of AFFOA. “All this is about to change as functional fiber and yarn technologies meet traditional textile production and yield new products by design. Our Institute, with the help of significant support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and with key participation by the Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center, will become the focal point of innovation in manufacturing and product, realizing the vision of advanced functional fabrics for the benefit of consumers, as well as our men and women in uniform, generating economic growth in the state and beyond. MIT was honored to convene this consortium, building on our years of fiber research and development at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology, a U.S. Army industry/university cooperative research center on the MIT campus.”

The AFFOA Institute is a $317 million public-private research partnership focused on the development of new fibers and textiles with diverse uses. These new, innovative fabrics and fibers will have a range of technical capabilities and novel properties, ranging from being incredibly lightweight and flame resistant, to having exceptional strength, to storing energy, to enabling internet-connected consumer apparel.

The AFFOA Institute serves as the focal point for a national network of Institute member companies, universities, nonprofits, and government agencies conducting research and production of fibers that have new functionality, including that of fiber-based semiconductor devices. Within Massachusetts, AFFOA will lead the development of a rapid prototyping and testing center for revolutionary fibers and textiles manufacturing, and an education and workforce development program for these careers.

By fostering close collaboration between academic researchers and industry partners, the manufacturing innovation institute will foster the rapid deployment of these revolutionary new technologies by Massachusetts employers.

The University of Massachusetts will serve as a key partner in the innovation institute, applying the university’s technical expertise in flexible electronics and wearable technologies to advanced fibers and textiles.

Quinsigamond Community College will co-chair the AFFOA Institute’s workforce development council, to support education and training of a skilled workforce in revolutionary fiber and textile manufacturing in Massachusetts. The workforce development assets that Quinsigamond will develop will have statewide deployment capabilities.

“Well-paid advanced manufacturing jobs support residents and their families, while ensuring that Massachusetts remains on the cutting edge of technological growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Our support for workforce development across the Commonwealth, coupled with the investments we are making in a range of emerging technologies, will help Massachusetts remain on the forefront of advanced manufacturing, while providing employment opportunities for hard-working residents. By supporting the development and commercialization of emerging technologies, and developing cutting-edge workforce training programs in these new manufacturing technologies, we are equipping residents across Massachusetts with the knowledge and skills to manufacture products that can only be made in Massachusetts.”

“Advanced manufacturers find growth opportunities in the Commonwealth, and it continues to be one of our growing employment sectors,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II. “We in the Baker-Polito administration are very aware that if advanced manufacturers are going to continue to expand in Massachusetts, they will need to be able to employ talented workers who have the skills they require. Therefore, we are focused on making sure education, economic development and the workforce system are in sync to meet employers needs so advanced manufacturers can continue to innovate, and strengthen the economy in the Commonwealth.”

“We are proud that MIT, the University of Massachusetts, and Quinsigamond Community College will be leading the nation’s first Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser. “This public-private partnership will help Massachusetts lead the way in a key emerging manufacturing field, and strengthen the important pipeline connecting education to industry.”

The National Network for Manufacturing Institutes (NNMI) is a rolling series of federally sponsored advanced manufacturing competitions. NNMI competitions seek to spur research into cutting-edge technologies that can be applied to advanced manufacturing processes across industry supply chains. Bidders in the competitions frequently form teams of universities across different states, with regional nodes supporting the lead bidder. The federal awards, which come from the Department of Defense, are leveraged several times over through a series of state and industry matches.

This is Massachusetts’s third recent NNMI win, and the state’s first national manufacturing innovation center under NNMI. Massachusetts previously secured regional manufacturing innovation institute nodes in photonics, and in flexible hybrid electronics. UMass Amherst is leading regional research and development efforts into flexible hybrid electronics. MIT and Quinsigamond Community College are partners in the regional photonics research effort, with Quinsigamond serving as the national workforce development lead for the photonics manufacturing innovation institute.

As part of this effort, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development will work closely with AFFOA’s academic and industry members to ensure that current and future investments by the Commonwealth support and leverage the federal investment in this cluster, and that the expertise of this innovation center is made available to industries throughout the state.


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