For Immediate Release - May 25, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $2.2 Million to Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Discovery Center

The Defense Fabric Discovery Center will be instrumental in efforts to develop advanced fabric technology for the military.

Lexington – May 25, 2017– Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $2.2 million grant to MIT Lincoln Laboratory to support the opening of the Defense Fabric Discovery Center. The Center is a collaboration between MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Army Natick Solider Research Development and Engineering Center, in partnership with the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA).

In April 2016, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that AFFOA was selected to serve as the national lead for the first Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a $317 million public-private partnership. AFFOA is the 6th DoD manufacturing innovation institute and a member of the Manufacturing USA network, formerly known as the National Network for Manufacturing Institutes, a network of competitively awarded public-private innovation institutes focused on advanced manufacturing. Massachusetts-based participants include MIT and the University of Massachusetts, as well as 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.

“This investment is part of our administration’s commitment to ensuring Massachusetts remains a leader in technology, innovation and education,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The research that will be done here will deliver advancements that improve the safety of those who serve on the front lines to defend our Commonwealth and nation.”

“This public-private model is accelerating research into solving some of our most pressing national security challenges right here in Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These resources will allow MIT Lincoln Laboratory, US Army Natick Soldier Center and AFFOA to continue advancing the future of revolutionary fibers and fabrics.”

“This center will push our researchers and employers through the next stages of commercialization, allowing for the prototyping of cutting-edge innovation,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “We are committed to investing in the future of advanced manufacturing technologies and building an equally impressive and skilled workforce to support this sector as it matures in Massachusetts.”

This new Defense Fabric Discovery Center will allow AFFOA to establish the capacity for product prototyping, in their efforts to demonstrate advanced functionalities for fiber and fabric based defense systems. The Defense Fabric Discovery Center at MIT Lincoln Laboratory will join AFFOA’s network of fabric discovery centers that have been established as part of the Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute. This discovery center will specifically address challenges faced by the Department of Defense through innovations in advanced fiber and fabric technology.

“We are excited to work collaboratively with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the US Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, local manufacturers, educational institutions and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to facilitate the creation of this center which will serve support national security needs,” said Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of AFFOA.

“MIT Lincoln Laboratory is looking forward to developing revolutionary new fiber and fabric technology for the protection of our armed forces.  We especially appreciate having the strong support of the State of Massachusetts to set up this Defense Fabric Discovery Center,” said Dr. Eric D. Evans, Director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “This partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, State of Massachusetts, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, industry, and federally funded research and development centers can serve as a model for effective collaboration that strengthens national security as well as our economy.”

“This support will enable us to build capabilities locally that not only support our local workforce and economy, but also advance technologies for our warfighters that address real and immediate needs, improve combat readiness, and posture our troops against future threats that will arise in this era of persistent conflict,” said Doug Tamilio, Director of US Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. “NSRDEC's unique mission is to protect and enhance warfighter effectiveness in all missions and operating environments, and includes the development of textiles for aerial delivery parachute systems, environmental/ballistic protection and novel applications, setting the conditions for this partnership.”

"The Defense Fabric Discovery Center is completely unique in the portfolio of Department of Defense (DoD) Manufacturing Innovation Institutes and is the first of its kind,” said Tracy Frost, Director, DoD Manufacturing USA Institutes & Acting Director, DoD ManTech. “It is a testament to the creativity of the AFFOA team and the leadership of both NSRDEC and Lincoln Labs, as well as the investment made by the State of Massachusetts"

Manufacturing USA seeks to spur research into cutting-edge technologies that can be applied to advanced manufacturing processes. Bidders frequently form teams of universities across different states, with regional nodes supporting the lead bidder. The federal awards are leveraged several times over through a series of state and industry matches.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) provides a vehicle for matching federal Manufacturing USA awards, and helping Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies. Under M2I2, Massachusetts is convening a national effort to develop revolutionary fibers and textiles, and the state is a participant in regional manufacturing innovation institute nodes in roboticsphotonicsflexible hybrid electronicsbiopharma manufacturing, smart manufacturing, and rapid process intensification.