By Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — A state-funded, cutting edge manufacturing program is making its way across the state and is targeting the Berkshires for growth.
Two directors of advanced manufacturing programs at the MassTech Innovation Institute provided an overview of the agency's Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, also known as M2I2, on Tuesday at Berkshire Community College.
The innovation initiative is a capital grants program that provides capital cost shares for projects and discovery centers throughout the state, and is aligned with the federal government's Manufacturing USA program. M2I2 is overseen by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Executive Officer of Housing and Economic Development.
"We would be very interested in talking to anybody who is interested in putting together a project in the Berkshires," said Ira Moskowitz, director of advanced manufacturing program at the MassTech Innovation Institute.
Before a small group of interested participants, Farhad Vazehgoo, senior manager of advanced technology programs at the MassTech Collaborative, described the types of funding and grants that are available through the M2I2 program and its relationship with Manufacturing USA, a network of 15 regional institutions that is focused on specialized technology.
M2I2 is committed to advancing Manufacturing USA's agenda throughout Massachusetts, Moskowitz said. In 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration provided more than $100 million in funding to the program over a five-year span to invest in Manufacturing USA and advance innovation and job growth through cross collaborations among companies, universities, national laboratories, government entities, incubators, accelerators and other academic/training institutions like vocational schools. The funding supports research and development infrastructure in advanced manufacturing sectors such as advanced functional fabrics, integrated photonics and robotics, according to the state.
The M2I2 program works with applicants from the earliest concept stages to development, Moskowitz said. But "each grant needs to have an investment and a university partner," he added. "We believe in promoting the intersections between technologies."
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