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Manufacturing Innovation Initiative Grants $3.9 Million for Advanced Fibers and Fabrics Research

The Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative announced a $3.9 million grant to support the second phase of research and development at the Defense Fabric Discovery Center, a cutting-edge research hub that opened in October.

The award follows an initial $2.2 million grant announced in May by Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito to support the opening of the Defense Fabric Discovery Center, and brings the state’s investment to the partnership between MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center to $6.1 million.

Funding will support R&D into revolutionary fibers and fabrics with applications in the defense sector. The grant was made as part of the 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 organizations like this, the Commonwealth’s M2I2 program helps ensure Massachusetts continues to lead in innovation and advanced manufacturing,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.

The new award will help the center expand research into how to apply emerging advanced fiber and fabric technologies for defense applications, including equipment that will allow for end-to-end prototyping such as computer-aided design of functional fabrics, fiber and yarn device fabrication, textile system and assemblies, and system integration to develop smart uniforms, emergency medical supplies and portable shelters.

In April 2016, the Department of Defense 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 fibers, yarns and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated and networked products and systems. The Defense Fabric Discovery Center, part of a network of AFFOA fabric discovery centers, specifically addresses challenges faced by the DOD through innovations in advanced fiber and fabric technology.

[Read more about the Innovation Center: DoD Announces $325M Deal for MIT-Led Textile Innovation Hub]

“The Commonwealth’s investment in the Defense Fabric Discovery Center creates a significant, new research and development capability at MIT Lincoln Laboratory,” said Eric Evans, director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “We are looking forward to working with others in the community to develop new fiber and fabric technology breakthroughs.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding over five years to the M2I2 effort, which provides a vehicle to invest in the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping advance innovation and job growth by spurring cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions.

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