LAWRENCE – Tuesday, March 8, 2022 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $2.8 million in new infrastructure grants through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative or M2I2 to three growing manufacturers. The three grants were announced by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy during an event at 99Degrees Custom in Lawrence, a 375-employee manufacturer of tech-integrated apparel, which received nearly $1.1 million in new state support. Grants were also awarded to Soliyarn, a maker of smart textiles based in Belmont, and to Human Systems Integration (H.S.I.), a wearable technology company headquartered in Walpole.
The three awards highlight the Commonwealth’s strength in innovative textiles, an advanced manufacturing sector targeted by the M2I2 program and a sector that the Commonwealth has played a leadership role in over the last two centuries.
“These three grantees are developing technical apparel used in medical and military applications, ‘smart’ products that provide enhanced protection from the elements but also provide enhanced functionality,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through this support, they have the opportunity to enhance their ability to compete in markets across the U.S. and the globe.”
“Since its launch in 2016, M2I2 has impacted over 150 companies across the state and created hundreds of jobs at manufacturers like these,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “For these three grantees, the addition of new tools will help them grow their businesses, add jobs, and bring new products to market, further boosting our economy and growing our manufacturing sector.”
The M2I2 program, co-managed by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) at the MassTech Collaborative and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, aims to foster and grow sectors such as this to spur innovation and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. To date, the program has invested over $80 million in direct grants to growing companies, universities, and research labs across the state.
“Through the M2I2 program, we identify manufacturers that can leverage state funding to drive future growth, allowing them to become more efficient, more competitive, and more responsive to customer needs,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “For 99Degrees, Soliyarn, and H.S.I., these grants will help fuel the development of new products and drive corporate expansion, while simultaneously creating more high-skilled jobs and more innovative ‘Made in Mass’ products in the marketplace.”
The three awarded projects, totaling $2,838,375, include:
- 99Degrees Custom, Lawrence, Mass., $1,088,375 for the project, “Integrated Apparel Innovation Center:” 99Degrees incubates, designs for manufacture, and produces technical performance activewear and wearable technology-integrated apparel for medical device, technology, and apparel retail companies. The Integrated Apparel Innovation Center at their facility will include a rapid prototyping center for apparel and technology-integrated apparel products, as well as an equipment R&D lab to design, develop and build the tooling and machinery needed to incubate and scale the production of advanced concept apparel and wearable technologies. This industry-led innovation center will ensure that the ideas coming out of the Commonwealth’s labs, academic institutions, research centers, and technologies companies are able to be designed for manufacture, piloted, and produced at-scale in Massachusetts.
- Soliyarn, Belmont, Mass., $1,500,000 for an expansion project to build a manufacturing facility with scalable CVD Roll-to-Roll System for Conductive & PFC free DWR textiles. This project will complete a manufacturing facility with a scalable chemical vapor deposition (CVD) roll-to-roll system for conductive and durable water repellent (DWR) textiles that are free of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). The objective is to expand the manufacturing capabilities and commercialize the technology by designing and building a roll-to-roll system of CVD chambers that will allow Soliyarn to produce bolts of conductive and DWR fabric. This higher throughput roll-to-roll machine, and other ancillary supporting elements, are required to meet identified military needs and the exploding market demand for these types of fabrics.
- Human Systems Integration (H.S.I.), Walpole, Mass., $250,000 for the project Critical Manufacturing, Assembly, and Integration of Garment-Embedded, Textile Electronics Elements. The objective of this project is to develop a new garment-embedded, wearable electronics platform that will be configurable during manufacturing to any desired product application. This program represents an opportunity for HSI, plus their current and emerging industry partners in Massachusetts, to establish a garment-embedded electronics supply chain for multiple products, applications, and markets. This initial Heated Apparel product offers a stepping stone to the development and deployment of an exciting garment-embedded electronics product category. This is the second M2I2 grant to H.S.I., following a nearly $1.5 million award announced in October 2019.
“99Degrees is honored to receive an M2I2 grant to scale our rapid prototyping and apparel development capabilities and to launch an automation + tooling R&D lab at our headquarters in Lawrence,” said Brenna Nan Schneider, Founder and CEO of 99Degrees. “Our lab will be New England’s first industry-led apparel innovation center focused on automation and tooling for apparel manufacturing and wearable tech integration. In this moment of surging demand for US manufacturing, the M2I2 grant helps us compete globally while employing locally. This grant is an investment in the future of US manufacturing, wearable technology innovation, and, most importantly, job creation right here in Lawrence.”
“Soliyarn is honored to have the support of the Baker-Polito Administration in our mission to innovate and transform the textile industry in the Commonwealth, using science developed at UMass Amherst by Dr. Trisha L. Andrew,” said Adrian Beach, Managing Member at Soliyarn. “This grant is incredibly impactful and allows us to take an active role in the rejuvenation of textile manufacturing in Massachusetts and help us lead the world in wearable technology.”
“H.S.I. is extremely grateful for the support shown to us by MassTech, along with various other state agencies,” said Brian Farrell, President and CEO of H.S.I. “This is the latest in a number of state collaborations which continue to drive our business towards our ultimate mutual end goals of new innovative products, which will in turn create additional jobs and bring additional revenues back into the Commonwealth. We consider ourselves fortunate to have established our business in a state which is actively committed to investing in the advancement of garment embedded technologies, both at a state and federal legislature and state body level.”
The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding to the M2I2 effort, which allows the Commonwealth to co-invest in projects supported by the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping promote innovation and job growth across the state. The three grantees have also received support from the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) national manufacturing institute based in Cambridge.
"Our strong manufacturing sector and involvement with companies through programs like M2I2 was a key reason why Massachusetts was quickly able to address the negative supply issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ben Linville-Engler, Chief Investment Strategist at the MassTech Collaborative. “The Commonwealth’s engagement with manufacturers and partnership with key R&D facilities, made it much easier to help textile manufacturers and others pivot to produce millions of masks, gowns, and face shields that were in high-demand at that time because that trust and collaboration already existed. These investment programs have created a strong foundation that have led to these manufacturing success stories that we intend to continue to build on.”
“AFFOA is excited to partner with Massachusetts manufacturers pushing the boundaries on advanced textile manufacturing innovation,” said Sasha Stolyarov, CEO of AFFOA. “These grants will support the development of scalable manufacturing processes, enabling a broad range of cutting-edge capabilities, from functional apparel with embedded sensors to electronic textiles for defense applications.”
In addition to the $80 million directly invested in Massachusetts organizations, M2I2 has leveraged over $250 million in funding from outside sources, helping to enable the development of over 100 new products. In addition to infrastructure investments, the program has also created workforce training opportunities for thousands of students and workers statewide.
"I want to congratulate 99Degrees for being awarded a Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) Grant to help launch their Integrated Apparel Innovation Center,” said Senator Barry Finegold. “Investments in programs like M2I2 are critical to support economic and career growth in Lawrence and other Gateway Cities. I’m proud to see that Massachusetts continues to be a hub for innovative and emerging technologies.”
"Human Systems Integration is a national leader in wearable technologies and manufacturing innovation right here in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Paul Feeney. “The funding received by HSI in East Walpole will continue to support the company’s cutting-edge products while supporting the skilled workforce that makes this innovation possible. I am thrilled that HSI will continue to benefit from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) Program, and I thank the Baker Administration and the leadership at HSI for their ongoing commitment to manufacturing here in the Commonwealth.”
"For more than three centuries, manufacturing along the Neponset River in East Walpole has been on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Representative John Rogers. “Human Systems Integration, Inc. (HSI) has continued this legacy. I am pleased that this state funding will continue to incentivize technological and economic growth in our region and excited to see the new state of the art products this business will create.”
Manufacturers with facilities in Massachusetts can learn more about funding opportunities through the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the M2I2 program at https://cam.masstech.org/.