Lt. Governor Polito Celebrates Blue Economy Investments at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Via the Mass. Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

Lt. Governor Polito Celebrates Blue Economy Investments at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Joins Cape Leaders to Celebrate Launch of State-Funded Marine Robotics ‘Maker Lab’; Highlight Support for Upgrades to WHOI’s World-Class Research Facilities

WOODS HOLE, MASS. – Today, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Commonwealth and Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council, joined elected officials and business leaders from the Cape Cod Massachusetts state sealregion to highlight the Commonwealth’s investments into the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and to tour the Institution’s world-class research facilities. As part of the visit, the Lt. Governor helped WHOI launch the new DunkWorks ‘maker lab’, a Commonwealth-supported research and development facility that is designed to boost innovation in the marine robotics space, helping drive the testing and rapid prototyping of new technologies.

During her remarks at the event, Lt. Governor Polito noted WHOI’s role in driving growth in the marine robotics sector in the Cape and South Coast regions.

“For marine robotics companies looking to develop their technologies, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and its world-class research and facilities make it one of the best partners across the globe,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The DunkWorks facility and other investments are creating collaborative spaces where innovators can come together, test their ideas, and then make them real. The training opportunities this infrastructure will provide can help truly set Massachusetts apart within this sector.”

DunkWorks is designed as a collaborative ‘maker lab’ or ‘skunk works’ that will allow marine robotics innovators access to cutting edge technologies and work spaces that will allow them to collaborate, create technology prototypes, and test their technologies prior to deployment in the ocean. The new lab will be located in WHOI’s campus in Woods Hole, providing easy access to the water.

"The nature of high-tech innovation is changing, moving faster and becoming more interconnected. WHOI is bringing that change to the emerging marine robotics industry," said WHOI President and Director Mark Abbott. "DunkWorks is a space where researchers and engineers can apply the latest advanced manufacturing techniques to create exciting new undersea systems. These innovations will enable the next generation of ocean scientists to further explore the ocean, and will the foundation for new marine industries.

The new DunkWorks facility is supported by a $5 million dollar award to WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics from the Commonwealth’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant program. The award is one of six made by the Innovation Institute at MassTech, which makes high-impact capital grant awards in promising areas of technology innovation. This is the first of four R&D infrastructure projects funded under the grant, which will also support upgrades to an existing Pressure Test Facility, a new Robotics Test Tank Facility, and improvements to an In-Ocean Test Environment, projects which will be rolled out over the coming years.

According to “The Massachusetts Robotics Cluster” report sponsored by MassTech and published by ABI Research, global revenue for unmanned underwater vehicles was $2.2 billion in 2015, but is expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2020.

“Marine robotics represents a real growth opportunity for Massachusetts and the Cape and South Coast in particular,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “With the help of WHOI and other research hubs, Massachusetts companies will be creating technologies that can address the needs of industries such as homeland security, environmental research, or offshore energy development.”

MassTech’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant program was established in 2012, with $50 million in capital authorization, to spur additional research and development activity in regions of the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration secured an additional $15 million in capital authorization through the 2016 economic development legislation.

“The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is on the cutting edge of innovation in both marine science and driving the Massachusetts economy,” said Sen. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “I am proud that the Baker-Polito Administration has chosen to partner with WHOI on this groundbreaking facility to continue that tradition for the benefit of Cape Cod and the entire state of Massachusetts.”

“As one of the world’s foremost ocean research organizations, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a model of how public investment in the sciences can pay dividends,” said Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth). “Additive manufacturing is the wave of the future, and a perfect example of how WHOI continues to be on the forefront of technological innovation.”

“Our congratulations and compliments to our colleagues at WHOI for their cutting-edge DunkWorks advanced manufacturing technology initiative,” said Falmouth’s Town Manager Julian M. Suso. “This is a further enhancement of WHOI’s world-class education and research facilities in Woods Hole. We thank the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for their continued support of WHOI’s extraordinary work in marine science.”

In addition to the DunkWorks launch, Lt. Governor Polito also toured the WHOI vessels R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong, viewed WHOI-produced unmanned underwater vehicles, and toured WHOI’s waterfront workspaces.

A major stop on the tour was WHOI’s Iselin Dock, which was the focus of a grant from the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council. In February 2017, the Council made the $500,000 planning award to the Town of Falmouth and WHOI to fund a feasibility study and preliminary design for redevelopment of the Iselin Dock, noting its role as a key enabler of Falmouth’s $400 million annual oceanographic research and marine operations economy. The Seaport Economic Council has invested over $21 million in the Commonwealth’s coastal communities since the Executive Order creating the Council was signed in August 2015, with 49 awards made to date.

“The launch of the DunkWork’s maker lab today adds to the already strong Blue Economy here in the Commonwealth,” said Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Carolyn Kirk, vice-chair of the Seaport Economic Council. “This is yet another burgeoning area of innovation in the marine industry that this administration and the Seaport Economic Council is proud to support.”

In 2016, the Council also awarded a $180,000 planning grant to the Cape Cod Commission to advance the region’s maritime economy and bring increased, consistent, and sustainable prosperity to the Cape and Islands by leveraging its natural coastal resources, the innovative ideas of the local community, and existing marine related industries, to increase the number of businesses and jobs in the Cape and Islands region that are not heavily dependent on the seasonal/tourist economy.


About MassTech:
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is an innovative public agency working to enhance economic growth, accelerate technology use and adoption, and harness the value of research by engaging in meaningful collaborations across academia, industry, and government.  From improving our health care systems and expanding high-speed internet across the state to fostering emerging industry clusters, MassTech is driving innovation and supporting a vibrant economy across the Commonwealth.

About WHOI:
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Michelle Hillman (HED) – michelle.m.hillman (at)

Samantha Kaufman (HED) – samantha.kaufman (at)

Brian Noyes (MassTech) - noyes (at)