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Two MassDevelopment Grants Help Spur Collaboration Among Manufacturers, Entrepreneurs

June 27, 2016


Meggie Quackenbush, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 857-208-2777 (cell)

Joyce Sidopoulos, MassTLC, 781-856-8696

Rick Feldman, VVM, 413-537-7059

MassDevelopment has awarded $328,000 through the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program, which supports growth in Massachusetts’ manufacturing sector, for two pilot programs that seek to foster collaboration and innovation among manufacturers and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts. The $200,000 grant MassDevelopment provided to Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) in Springfield will help the incubator create the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerator (Mass MAC), an executive training program for manufacturers. Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) in Burlington received $128,000 to connect manufacturers with the robotics and Internet of Things community in Massachusetts.

“MassDevelopment is pleased to help these two organizations in their efforts to cultivate an innovative new future for manufacturers and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We’re thrilled to support Valley Venture Mentors and MassTLC’s efforts to elevate a culture of creativity and collaboration within the manufacturing industry.”

The grant to Valley Venture Mentors will fund the first of a three-year pilot program for Mass MAC. The accelerator program will deliver intensive and immersive boot-camp style training sessions to advanced manufacturers over several months to help them identify new revenue streams and connect them with new industries and customers.

“We’re attracting a robust response and following in the manufacturing community since announcing this program. MassDevelopment’s support is being widely embraced,” said VVM Project Director Rick Feldman. “Small and medium manufacturing companies want to be able to respond to new markets and new product development, and this accelerator is designed to help them reach these markets and achieve production and profitability goals.”  

Valley Venture Mentors began recruiting for the program in Springfield, Pittsfield, and the Greenfield-Deerfield area in May, and training boot camps will begin in October and conclude in December. Their partners in this program include the Western Massachusetts Chapter National Tooling & Machining, the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, Buckly Richardson Gelinas and Eidolon Consulting.

MassTLC will use grant funds to conduct a three-phase project aimed at cultivating a culture of collaboration between Massachusetts suppliers and manufacturers and the state’s robotics and Internet of Things (also known as “IoT,” which refers to everyday objects and electronics that have network connectivity) community.       

“Our goal is to help robotics and IoT start-ups and scale-ups grow and commercialize their products by connecting them with our local manufacturers,” said MassTLC Robotics Cluster Community Manager Joyce Sidopoulos. “We are grateful to receive this MassDevelopment grant, which enables us to help our community by providing the knowledge and resources it needs to bring great ideas to great products made in Massachusetts.”

MassTLC plans to partner with MassRobotics, a nonprofit that works to grow the next generation of robotics companies, and MassMEP, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, on this initiative. Phase one will involve surveys and targeted interviews of Massachusetts’ robotics and IoT companies in an effort to identify their manufacturing needs, and outreach to manufacturers and suppliers to assess their capacity to work with companies to commercialize their products. Phase two will include informational and educational workshops for these companies and vendors. The final phase will bring both communities together for a series of “meetups” and matchmaking sessions. 

About Valley Venture Mentors
Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) has been bringing startups, early stage enterprises, and mentors together at programs and events designed to facilitate entrepreneurship and collisions since 2011. VVM helps startups & entrepreneurs succeed. Over 120 businesses have graduated from the VVM programs, and as of 2015, these businesses generated over $10 million in sales and investments and over 220 new full-time jobs.

About MassTLC
With more than 550 member companies, the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) is the region’s leading technology association and the premier network for tech executives, entrepreneurs, investors and policy leaders. MassTLC’s purpose is to accelerate innovation by connecting people from across the technology landscape, providing access to industry-leading content and ideas, and offering a platform for visibility for member companies and their interests.

About MassDevelopment and the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program 
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2015, MassDevelopment financed or managed 294 projects generating investment of more than $2.5 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 6,100 jobs and build or rehabilitate about 2,000 residential units. The Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program was established to support the growth of Massachusetts manufacturing companies statewide. It is administered to account for the needs of manufacturers in all regions of the Commonwealth.