Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Launch of New Innovation Lab
RapidLab, supported by Seaport Economic Council grant, will boost marine economy and manufacturing startups
FALL RIVER, MA – Today, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined business and technology leaders from across the South Coast today for the launch of RapidLab, a new ‘rapid prototyping center’ which will offer research & development infrastructure and cutting edge fabrication technologies for startups in the manufacturing and marine technology sectors. The new facility, housed at UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) in Fall River, previously received a $250,000 grant from the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council (SEC).
The RapidLab facility will build on the CIE’s experience working with manufacturing-focused startups. As one of the only facilities of its type in Southern New England, RapidLab will allow the CIE to engage with a range of firms in a 50-mile radius of Fall River, helping grow Massachusetts companies and to attract startups that are looking to prototype, develop, and launch innovative technologies. This includes startups in a range of sectors which have a maritime-focus, including advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and robotics.
“Lieutenant Governor Polito and the Seaport Economic Council have led the way on investments in our coastal communities that will have lasting economic and cultural impacts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We congratulate UMass Dartmouth on this milestone and look forward to celebrating the game-changing startup companies and innovative technologies that will emerge from this new RapidLab facility.”
“The RapidLab facility provides an important and cutting-edge research and development space for startups that want to manufacture next-generation technologies,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Maritime-focused startups will enjoy the essential tools provided in this space and a close proximity to Massachusetts’ waterfront and a talented South Coast workforce being trained by UMass Dartmouth in engineering, marine science and more.”
The RapidLab mechanical prototyping lab will assist manufacturing-focused companies to bring ideas from design into reality. The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship will work with customers to help them build the first, second, or third iteration of their designs, providing startups with the opportunity to demonstrate their innovative technologies to investors, help obtain patents, or to perform testing prior to final manufacturing.
“UMass Dartmouth plays an important role in economic development, job creation and innovation,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson. “And supporting innovative, technology-driven startups is the core mission of our Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. RapidLab supports that mission by providing advanced manufacturing and prototyping capabilities to help these startups develop products faster and more effectively than ever.”
Following the speaking program, Lt. Governor Polito joined UMass Dartmouth leaders and elected officials from Fall River for the ribbon cutting for the new facility, which was followed by tours and a networking session with startups that will utilize the RapidLab facility. Elected officials in attendance hailed the benefits the new lab will have for companies across the South Coast.
“The CIE has done an excellent job of adapting to the changing economy and providing important services to the region,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues. “With the support of the Seaport Economic Council and Lt. Governor Polito, the RapidLab is the next step in promoting manufacturing and innovation in the South Coast.”
"This state investment to provide support for fabrication and prototyping for innovative marine focused and manufacturing startups right here in Fall River gives the UMass CIE and this region a competitive advantage,” said Representative Carole Fiola. “We welcome RapidLabs to the CIE.”
"The marine technology sector is poised for rapid growth and we are uniquely positioned to benefit,” said Representative Paul Schmid. “We appreciate the attention that the Baker-Polito administration has paid to the South Coast and for this further investment."
"We are excited about the technology and what it will mean for our business community," said Representative Alan Silvia.
The $250,000 grant from the SEC for the RapidLab project was part of $2.6 million in awards announced in August 2016 and is one of four grants that UMass Dartmouth has received from the SEC including funding for a research report authored by the Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth released in April. The study found that during 2015 the Massachusetts Maritime Economy supported $17.3 billion in economic impact, nearly 136,000 jobs, and $6.8 billion in wages. The report also showed that the Maritime Economy in the Commonwealth saw 37 percent growth from 2005 to 2015, more than Massachusetts as a whole, which saw 11 percent growth during that same timeframe.
“Massachusetts has a strong history of innovation in the maritime sector and the UMass Dartmouth study confirmed the robust economic contribution it provides to the Commonwealth,” said Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Carolyn Kirk. “Through continued investments in coastal communities like Fall River and in innovative facilities like RapidLab, we can help ensure continued growth and cement our leadership in maritime innovation.”
Earlier this month the SEC, chaired by the Lt. Governor and vice-chaired by Deputy Secretary Kirk, announced $2.4 million in grants to seven coastal communities.
The Lt. Governor previously visited the CIE in September 2016 for the graduation of OceanServer, a marine robotics company, and for two Maritime Innovation Conferences in December 2015 and April 2016. Last month, she provided the keynote for the launch of the new DunkWorks lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a ‘skunk works’-style lab that will boost marine robotics startups, a facility supported by a Commonwealth R&D grant provided by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.