For Immediate Release - June 19, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration, Industry Leaders Celebrate Opening of Advanced Textile Manufacturing Institute

Non-profit Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) leads National Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute

CambridgeJune 19, 2017 – Governor Charlie Baker today joined Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, United States Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics James MacStravic, MIT President Dr. L Rafael Reif, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) CEO Dr. Yoel Fink and industry leaders to celebrate the opening of the AFFOA headquarters and textile innovation hub.

The headquarters includes the nation’s first operating Fabric Discovery Center (FDC), an end-to-end prototyping facility, which will provide incubation space for researchers, start-ups and partners to catalyze the development of new, advanced fabric technologies. This FDC is the first to open among a nationwide network of similar facilities partnering with AFFOA. In May, the Baker-Polito Administration announced funding for two additional centers in Lowell and Lexington, Mass.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this first of its kind Fabric Discovery Center and the advances and jobs it will unlock in revolutionary fabrics and textiles,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our investments and the commitment of partners from the federal government, academia and the private sector in harnessing these emerging technologies, are critical to the Commonwealth’s competitiveness in advanced manufacturing and creating job opportunities for Massachusetts’ residents.”

In April 2016, Governor Baker joined AFFOA at the announcement of Massachusetts’ selection to lead the National Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a $317 million public-private partnership. This is the first time Massachusetts was selected to lead a Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Governor Baker also announced a pledge of $40 million in matching state funds to support capital projects, including a $5 million commitment to equipping the AFFOA headquarters.

“These centers will usher in the future of textile manufacturing in Massachusetts, and drive growth locally in Cambridge, Lowell and Lexington,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The future of these technologies is expansive, with promising potential to make new advancements in national defense, technology, medical care and wearable technology.” 

AFFOA is the 6th Department of Defense manufacturing innovation institute and a member of the Manufacturing USA network, 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.

“AFFOA and its partners are catalyzing advances in fabric technology, ensuring Massachusetts remains at the cutting edge of technological growth, to the benefit of advanced manufacturers in the Commonwealth and our highly-skilled workforce," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “We are working to closely link our investments in workforce development with emerging technologies, so we can ensure our workforce has the skills necessary to compete for tomorrow’s job opportunities.”

“This state-of-the-art headquarters reflects the hard work of AFFOA and its partners in developing cutting-edge textiles for our military and other uses,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “This grand opening also is a reminder of how public investment in science can lead to groundbreaking research and innovation that saves lives.  Instead of cutting the federal budget for science, it’s time to double down on this kind of investment to spur more discoveries like the kind taking place here at AFFOA and across the Commonwealth.”

"Massachusetts has a storied history of textile innovation, dating back to our role at the center of America's Industrial Revolution. Today, Massachusetts carries on that tradition as home to a unique innovation hub that brings together first class academics, high tech companies, facilities and resources, and a skilled workforce,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “This initiative is further evidence of the remarkable current and future potential here in the Commonwealth to advance important research and development, especially in the defense sector. Whether it is reducing weight or increasing the high-tech capabilities, creative, modern textiles can ease the burden of combat for our servicemembers and help keep them safe around the globe. This public / private partnership will have economic benefits, bring state of the art resources to our servicemembers and help foster a new Innovation Revolution for our Commonwealth."

“Throughout our Commonwealth, there is one connective thread that can be traced across industries, regions and generations: a fierce pride in product,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “With this public-private partnership and investments across all levels of government, the AFFOA will not only honor that tradition, but usher in a new era of textiles and innovation that will call Massachusetts home.”

"AFFOA's promise reflects the very best of MIT: It's bold, innovative and daring.  It leverages and drives technology to solve complex problems, in service to society.  And it draws its strength from a rich network of collaborators -- across governments, universities and industries,” said MIT President Rafael Reif.  “It has been inspiring to watch the partnership's development this past year, and it will be exciting to witness the new frontiers and opportunities it will open.”

“The advanced fabric product platforms that we introduced today exemplify the future where US manufacturing innovations enable breakthrough products that benefit consumers,” said AFFOA CEO Yoel Fink.

"Massachusetts has a history of innovation and developing new technologies. I am extremely glad to see the launch of this outstanding opportunity to accelerate innovation in textiles," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg.

"Massachusetts has long been a leader in emerging technologies and advanced manufacturing, and I am proud that our Commonwealth has once again been recognized for this leadership,” said State Senator Eric Lesser, Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “We must continue to invest in the technologies of the future, which will provide the job security and quality of life our citizens need and deserve.”

“AFFOA represents a modern approach to manufacturing and is a continued investment in the Commonwealth’s technology sector,” said State Senator Joe Boncore. “Further, through its partnerships with institutions like MIT, AFFOA assures the Commonwealth will retain a skilled work and competitive edge in our dynamic and growing economy.”

"Our state is increasingly becoming a leader in advanced manufacturing, and today's opening is another example of how government and industry have come together to pursue innovation," said State Representative Jeffrey Roy, Chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus. "Working with the Governor, and under the leadership of Speaker Robert DeLeo, the Legislature has made thoughtful investments in this sector, and we continue to look at ways to improve production and provide good paying jobs for our residents. Manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy and this incubation space will provide some advanced fabric technologies which are critical to the future of the industry."

 “AFFOA has remained an integral part of textile manufacturing for the entire Country. Their drive to move textile ability and sophistication forward is a testament to their innovative mission,” said State Representative Jay Livingstone. “I applaud the investment that has been made in this important institution and emerging technologies.”

 Manufacturing USA seeks to spur research into cutting-edge technologies that can be applied to advanced manufacturing processes. Bidders frequently form teams of universities, companies and non-profits 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 help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies. The Baker-Polito Administration has committed $100 million in funding over five years to initiatives in Massachusetts. 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 robotics, photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, biopharma manufacturing, smart manufacturing, and rapid process intensification.

 AFFOA is a non-profit with over 100 members from industry, academia and non-profits dedicated to enabling a domestic manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibers, yarns, and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated and networked devices and systems. To enable rapid transition from idea to product, AFFOA has assembled a high-tech national product prototyping ecosystem called the Fabric Innovation Network (FIN). The FIN is made up of small, medium, and large manufacturers and academic centers that have production capabilities allocated to AFFOA projects.

Through AFFOA and the FIN, members can rapidly execute prototypes and pilot manufacturing of advanced fabric products, decreasing time to market and accelerating product innovation. AFFOA leads the convergence of advanced technology into fibers (“Moore’s Law for fibers”) resulting in fabric products that deliver value-added services to the user (“Fabrics as a service”). Through AFFOA’s activities, fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color will soon be possible to benefit the consumer and warfighter. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AFFOA is a public/private partnership and a member of the Manufacturing USA network. For more information visit www.AFFOA.ORG  or tweet @AFFOA_RFT