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$3.9 m for R& D at Defence Fabric Discovery Centre
The Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative have awarded $3.9 million to support the second phase of research and development at the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre, a cutting-edge research hub. Funding will support research and development into revolutionary fibres and fabrics with applications in the defence sector.
The award follows an initial $2.2 million dollar grant announced in May 2017 by Lt Governor Karyn Polito to support the opening of the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre. This brings the Commonwealth’s investment to the partnership between MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Centre (NSRDEC) to $6.1 million.
Funding will support research and development into revolutionary fibres and fabrics with applications in the defence sector.
The grant was announced by housing and economic development secretary Jay Ash and was made as part of the Commonwealth’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), which provides a vehicle for the state to match federal investments made in the Manufacturing USA institutes, including the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA).
“By supporting important projects and organisations like this, the Commonwealth’s M2I2 programme helps ensure Massachusetts continues to lead in innovation and advanced manufacturing,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The research and development of these revolutionary materials will have a direct impact on everyday safety of our brave service men and women.”
The Centre is a collaboration between AFFOA, MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, and the US Army’s Natick Solider Research Development and Engineering Centre. The new award will help the Centre expand research into how to apply emerging advanced fibre and fabric technologies for defence applications, including equipment that will allow for end-to-end prototyping including computer-aided design (CAD) of functional fabrics, fibre and yarn device fabrication, textile system and assemblies, and system integration to develop smart uniforms, emergency medical supplies and portable shelters.
“Today’s M2I2 grants will continue to support the development of cutting-edge technologies and advanced textiles here in Massachusetts,” said Lt Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to leverage the Commonwealth’s strengths in innovation and manufacturing to bolster a partnership designed to support the challenges faced by the country’s national security teams and our troops on the front lines.”
“A key part of our economic development strategy is to build on our world-class R and D organisations across the Commonwealth,” said Ash. “Across the M2I2 spectrum, we’re funding collaborative projects that build on our core strengths, investing in critical infrastructure and increasing access to the cutting-edge tools that small manufacturing companies need to pilot next-gen technologies.”
In April 2016, the Department of Defence joined local leaders to announced the establishment of AFFOA in Massachusetts, a $317 million public-private partnership to enable a domestic manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibres, yarns, and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated and networked products and systems. The Defence Fabric Discovery Centre, part of a network of AFFOA fabric discovery centres, specifically addresses challenges faced by the Department of Defence through innovations in advanced fibre and fabric technology. The Commonwealth’s initial M2I2 award supported the Centre’s official opening in October 2017.
“The Commonwealth’s investment in the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre creates a significant, new research and development capability at MIT Lincoln Laboratory,” said Eric Evans, director, MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “We are looking forward to working with others in the community to develop new fibre and fabric technology breakthroughs.”
“The funding for the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre announced today underscores the deep commitment of the Baker Administration and Secretary Ash to Advanced Fabric investments in support of national security and the US Army,” said Yoel Fink, CEO of AFFOA.
“Massachusetts has been a leader in manufacturing for centuries and the investment made under the M2I2 programme is another step to ensure that our research institutions, companies, and workers get the support that will allow them to lead throughout the 21st century,” said Tim Connelly, executive director and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. (SV)