Baker-Polito Administration Awards $429,000 for New Space Test Facility in the Berkshires

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $429,000 for New Space Test Facility in the Berkshires

Located in Pittsfield, Will be First Commercial Facility in the World Capable of Replicating Space Environment

PITTSFIELD - Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new grant totaling approximately $429,000 from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) to support the development of new specialized equipment for testing the reliability and compatibility of spacecraft components by Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc. (EMA). Located at the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), EMA will have the only facility in the world capable of both performing testing on materials in a replicated space environment, and the only facility in the world able to design and manufacture the systems capable of producing the energy sources that can replicate the space environment here on earth.

Photos from today's event can be found here.

The award was announced today by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who visited the BIC  with Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, Massachusetts legislative leaders, and state officials to meet the EMA team and to tour their facility. The EMA team highlighted how the M2I2 grant will be utilized to help establish the Berkshires as an epicenter for space materials research and testing.

"Thanks to this Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative award, Pittsfield will become home to the first-of-its-kind, commercially-available facility that can replicate the environment in space,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The new facility will help advance the Commonwealth’s position as a leader in aerospace technology, while strengthening the Berkshire region’s reputation as an attractive location for innovation.”

“With this award to EMA, our storied track record of partnering with communities across the Commonwealth to support cutting-edge technology, foster economic activity, and create jobs, continues,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “I want to thank the City of Pittsfield for their willingness to embrace innovation and I look forward to the results of this important partnership.”

“The Berkshires are already a hub for innovation and manufacturing, and EMA’s plans create the opportunity to push those boundaries even further into the research and testing of space materials,” said Secretary Kennealy. “This award is not only exciting for EMA and the BIC, but for us as a Commonwealth, because it presents a major economic opportunity to engage in the fast growing world of commercial space travel and planetary exploration.”

“The investments we make in companies like EMA position Massachusetts to be at the forefront of today’s manufacturing trends, in this case in the emerging aerospace and space technology sector,” said Center for Advanced Manufacturing Director Christine Nolan. “Today’s investment by M2I2 will help further grow the necessary supply chains and complementary companies needed for our burgeoning aerospace and defense sectors.”

EMA is currently developing novel methods for producing different types of space radiation, in addition to modern methods and devices capable of measuring the performance of components and materials in the space environment.

“Reliability in space is paramount. The technology and techniques that EMA is developing will allow for companies in a variety of sectors to understand how materials and devices will behave in the harshness of space,” said Justin McKennon, Principal Scientist, Electro Magnetic Applications Inc. “With the support of M2I2, the City of Pittsfield, NextFlex and others, EMA will establish its Pittsfield, Mass., location as a Center of Excellence for space radiation effects and equipment.”

EMA’s project is also supported by NextFlex, a member of the national Manufacturing USA network of manufacturing institutes. NextFlex is a consortium of companies, academic institutions, non-profits, and governments with a shared goal of advancing U.S. manufacturing of flexible-hybrid electronics (FHE). The use of FHE in space environments is of great interest to small satellite makers and other space based systems, as a significant cost is associated with the launch of satellites.

"EMA's project is of significant interest to NextFlex and its members," said Scott Miller, PhD, Director of Technology at NextFlex. "As the field of Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) has advanced, the need for system reliability is paramount.  For FHE applications in space, where FHE can create size and weight savings and enable novel form factors for electronics that integrate better with systems, we need ways to test materials, components, and systems on the ground to predict how they will perform in space.  EMA's project will help to enhance the reliability of these systems and accelerate their development.”

EMA has also been supported by the City of Pittsfield, through an award of $140,000 from the City’s Economic Development Fund in 2019, plus additional tax local incentives.  

“I am deeply proud to know that the City of Pittsfield is home to Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc., a globally recognized leader in the aerospace and technology industry,” said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer. “In 2019, we supported EMA with a $140,000 investment from the city’s Economic Development Fund to help build its space radiation effects testing facility at the Berkshire Innovation Center. We recognized the company’s strong leadership, solid track record of advancements, and its capacity for continuous growth and job creation in this emerging marketplace. I am thrilled to know that with this significant grant award, EMA will continue to make bold strides, further strengthening its position as a front-runner in this dynamic field.”
 
“Western Massachusetts is a growing hub of creativity and innovation impacting industries and sectors throughout the region,” said Senator Adam Hinds. “This grant for Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc. in Pittsfield is a critical investment for continuing their growth. These types of investments push innovation forward in Pittsfield and the region.”
 
"The BIC is living up to its promise of positioning its member companies to be ready for growth and success,” said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. “The Commonwealth is proud to be among the partners bringing resources that enable cutting edge research and development capabilities, otherwise not available to individual companies. This award to Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc. is just another example of this."

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 new award announced today by the M2I2 program brings the total amount invested to over $70 million, boosting advanced manufacturing projects throughout Massachusetts, supporting critical R&D infrastructure, and workforce training programs. Co-managed by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), the M2I2 program has:

  • Leveraged over $80 million in investment from other sources;
  • Impacted over 100 companies;
  • Supported development of 100-plus new products;
  • Assisted  over 300 entrepreneurs statewide; and
  • Enabled pathways for thousands of students and workers.

According to Manufacturing in Massachusetts, 9 percent of the Commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing, and Massachusetts companies exported $26 billion in manufactured goods in 2016 alone. Roughly 250,000 employees work in the Commonwealth’s manufacturing sector, comprising 7.8 percent of the total workforce in the state.

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About the Mass. Center for Advanced Manufacturing at MassTech

The mission of the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) is to foster the most complete, collaborative and agile manufacturing ecosystem, to enable business growth from innovation through production. The CAM is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), a public economic development agency tasked with supporting business formation and growth in the Commonwealth’s tech and innovation sectors. CAM provides a path for manufacturing growth through a connected, accessible ecosystem that supports innovation, workforce development and a business friendly environment. CAM managed programs include the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), the MassBridge manufacturing training program, and the mamanufacturing.com portal. Learn more at https://cam.masstech.org/.

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Contact: 
Michael Verseckes (HED) Michael.W.Verseckes@mass.gov

Brian Noyes (MassTech) noyes@masstech.org