BILLERICA, MA – February 1, 2018 – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $400,000 grant to UMass Lowell and SI2 Technologies (SI2) to support a research and development partnership to pursue the commercialization of innovative flexible-hybrid electronics technology. The award will allow research partners to develop new, flexible electronic antennas that can withstand high temperatures, which can be used in autonomous, hypersonic vehicles. The administration is supporting the partnership through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2). This is the second M2I2 award made to this research partnership, following a grant of $512,000 announced by Governor Charlie Baker on the Lowell campus in May 2017.
In addition to the M2I2 awards, SI2 and UMass Lowell have received nearly $1 million in support from the NextFlex Institute. The new award will allow SI2 Technologies to hire additional personnel as the project develops, adding to their 20 existing employees and continue support for UMass Lowell as it continues to grow as a leader in R&D in flexible-hybrid electronics, innovative technologies which help drive the development of novel sensors, electronics, displays, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and wearable technologies.
“Massachusetts leads the country in innovation and supporting new technologies like flexible electronics researched and developed at UMass Lowell and S SI2 Technologies helps ensure the Commonwealth will continue to lead emerging industries,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to support public-private partnerships that benefit our research institutions, create new jobs and enhance Massachusetts’ standing as a national leader on business and innovation.
“We are pleased to partner with UMass Lowell so their students can continue to engaged with exciting, emerging technologies made possible by flexible, hybrid electronics,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Today’s announcement builds on our deep commitment to the M2I2 program, giving students and entrepreneurs the tools and support to pursue technologies with endless potential.”
Today, Secretary Jay Ash joined local officials for the announcement and tour of SI2 Technologies’ manufacturing facilities, where SI2 displayed several of the instruments supported by the May 2017 award. The project developed new technologies to develop hybrid-electronic (HE) cylindrical phased array radar and antenna devices. The project partners, which includes SI2, UMass Lowell, and Raytheon, estimate the market for those types of radar array systems will be valued at an estimated $1.99 billion by 2020.
“We are extremely encouraged by the progress SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell have made in the development of these remarkable technologies,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “I want to recognize UMass Lowell’s impressive leadership in this emerging cluster, creating unique opportunities for researchers, undergraduate and graduate students in a quickly evolving industry.”
“Flexible electronics enable us to reimagine many of the products we use every day and are revolutionizing industries ranging from national defense, to health care, to manufacturing and fashion. UMass Lowell is proud of the national reputation we have earned as we work with industry and government partners to become national leaders in a truly innovative sector of the economy,” said Julie Chen, UMass Lowell’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. “I want to thank Secretary Ash, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for recognizing the critical role public research universities can play in economic development.”
Today’s M2I2 award will continue the establishment of UMass Lowell as a leader for customized test methods and as a home for R&D infrastructure, tools that will support Massachusetts advanced manufacturing companies working in the flexible hybrid electronic sector. The project will strengthen the position of Massachusetts in this technical market and will build on the Commonwealth’s previous investment into R&D infrastructure in the sector, which included a $4 million grant announced by Governor Baker in 2015 for the Printed Electronic Research Collaborative at UMass Lowell, another project where SI2 is a key private-sector partner.
“We are pleased to once again be part of the NextFlex program in conjunction with the state and our partners at UMass Lowell, Lockheed Martin, GE, and Binghamton University,” said Dr. Joseph Kunze, President and CEO of SI2 Technologies. “This award will enable SI2 to increase our capabilities to test component integration at elevated temperatures and measure the reliability and performance of flexible hybrid electronic (FHE) devices. The testing and data sharing among our partners will enable SI2 to remain highly competitive and help increase our knowledge base and market share in the future. We are grateful to Secretary Ash and The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for their support and vision to keep Massachusetts in the forefront of this technical market.”
“NextFlex is proud to be associated with the M2I2 programs announced today in Massachusetts that represent a great commitment by the state to support new technology advancement for the U.S. and the military industrial base. The number of flexible hybrid electronics projects being performed by entities in Massachusetts, including NextFlex members SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell, is exciting to see,” said Malcolm J. Thompson, Executive Director of NextFlex. “I’m extremely proud of the special relationship that we enjoy with Joseph Kunze of SI2 Technologies, our first founding member. SI2’s antenna technology is critical to many market sectors, and we are pleased to be working with SI2 to develop FHE prototypes that will revolutionize the field.”
The Commonwealth’s M2I2 effort is administered by EOHED and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, in partnership with the federal Manufacturing USA effort. The M2I2 program understands that innovation is key to the future of manufacturing within the Commonwealth and builds upon the state’s existing assets, including our strong academic institutions, unparalleled workforce, national leadership in R&D, the depth of the innovation ecosystem in the state, and long history of manufacturing strength. The Initiative deepens and connects these assets, to further the innovations and job growth within the state by connecting companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions.
“These projects are addressing very real market needs,” said Ira Moskowitz, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Programs at the Innovation Institute at the MassTech Collaborative. “While these researchers are looking toward the future, they’re answering the demand from the Department of Defense and other major buyers for these cutting-edge products. Beyond the defense capabilities, we believe that the products developed under this project will have many everyday applications.”
“I’m always pleased to see local partnerships between workforce and education,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman. “With this grant, SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell will have the additional resources they need to develop innovative products and technology that will contribute to our ever-growing advanced manufacturing industry while promoting job growth throughout the Commonwealth.”
“I’m so pleased to see the success that SI2 Technologies is having in Billerica. I would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for this investment in the fantastic innovations that SI2 is leading,” said Representative Marc Lombardo. “The Town of Billerica and the Commonwealth are proud of SI2 Technologies’ work.”
Under M2I2, the Baker-Polito Administration has made a nearly $100 million commitment to provide matching funds to support capital projects under the Manufacturing USA program, an industry driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership. That includes a $20 million commitment for projects under the NextFlex Institute.
Since October, the Administration has announced over $15 million in M2I2 awards to support advanced manufacturing across Massachusetts. In January, Lt. Governor Polito announced a $4 million grant to support the development of a Worcester-based integrated photonics facility to be managed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College. That followed a December 2017 grant of $3.9 million to Lexington’s MIT Lincoln Laboratory to support the development of the Defense Fabric Discovery Center, a cutting-edge research hub supported by $6.1 million in total M2I2 awards. During Manufacturing Month last October, Governor Baker and Secretary Ash announced nearly $7 million in M2I2 awards to seven project across the state, including a $500,000 grant to support a NextFlex collaborative project between UMass Amherst and Uniqarta focused on advanced flexible-hybrid electronics systems.
Launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) aims to help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies and guides the state’s investment in the Manufacturing USA program. The Administration has committed $100 million-plus in funding to support M2I2 projects across the Commonwealth; the investments are managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M2I2 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions.