Commonwealth’s M2I2 Grant will Boost First-of-its-Kind Production Line for Development of Photonic Biochips used in Medical Diagnostics
BURLINGTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new grant of $681,631 to Burlington’s SiPhox Inc. to support the development of a first-of-its-kind facility that will mass-produce pluggable photonic biochips, boosting output from 100 biochips per month to roughly 5,000 per month to help meet growing demand from biotech verticals such as distributed diagnostics, drug discovery, and vaccine development. The domestic development of integrated biochips will help fuel many ‘Made in Massachusetts’ innovations, including for use in emergency room and point-of-care settings, with potential expansion for use in at-home devices, an estimated $50 billion market. The grant from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) will help the company invest in new infrastructure that will allow them to meet the growing demand from within the Commonwealth’s strong biotech sector and from global customers as well.
“We saw the critical importance of bolstering our homegrown manufacturing pipeline throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis, making investments like these in the production pipeline all the more critical,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our investment in SiPhox and the development of biochips will be a key building block for the development of innovative diagnostic tools.”
“Our Administration has prioritized investments in manufacturing and life sciences that ensure we have the products and the talent to stay the top biotech hub in the world,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, a co-chair of the Commonwealth’s STEM Council. “Today’s investment will ensure that SiPhox has the ability to bolster production and our investments in the Commonwealth’s talent pipeline will help ensure the company can meet its strong demand.”
The announcement of the grant was made by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who also serves as co-chair of the Commonwealth’s Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative and the chair of the board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a public economic development agency. The Secretary met with SiPhox executives and Burlington-area business leaders at the announcement, before receiving a guided tour of the company’s manufacturing facility, which included a blood testing demonstration utilizing integrated biochips.
“There’s real demand right now for the biochips manufactured by SiPhox, from many of the leading health care sectors that call Massachusetts home,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “But what’s perhaps more significant is the potential that exists to develop new diagnostic tools that will be smaller, faster, and lower impact on patients — these innovations will be made possible by the biochips made in this facility.”
SiPhox was co-founded by CEO Diedrik Vermeulen, previously the Director of Engineering at Boston-based Analog Photonics and a research scientist at MIT, and the holder of more than 20 patents and more than 100 published papers and conference contributions. His co-founder Michael Dubrovsky, who serves as Chief Commercial Officer, brings expertise as a materials chemist, also with a focus on photonics, and was an Advanced Study Program Fellow at MIT’s Materials Science program from 2019 to 2020. The company is also a graduate of the Y Combinator accelerator.
“We are very grateful for the support from M2I2. This grant not only augments SiPhox’s manufacturing capabilities and contributes to the economic development of the photonic biotech industry in Massachusetts, but it also furthers our mission to make everyone healthier,” said Diedrik Vermeulen, CEO of SiPhox. “The human body is the most complex machine in the world, maybe even in the universe, nothing compares. Today, patients and doctors are often forced to rely on scarce data to make decisions. With our integrated photonics technology, we are finally democratizing photonic diagnostic lab tools and bringing them to the home.”
The M2I2 program is co-managed by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) at the MassTech Collaborative and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The Initiative aims to foster and grow advanced manufacturing across Massachusetts by spurring 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 and 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.
“The Greater Boston region is a hotbed for biotech development and we’re excited to support the product pipeline and the biochips manufactured here in the Commonwealth by SiPhox,” said Christine Nolan, CAM director. “The M2I2 effort is aimed at growing manufacturing verticals where Massachusetts can play a leading role nationally and globally. Another goal is to support the entrepreneurs that come out of our top academic institutions. SiPhox, with a game-changing product and a background from MIT, checked both boxes.”
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. A critical part of the SiPhox project has relied on the advanced manufacturing capabilities of the national manufacturing institute AIM Photonics, a public-private partnership focused on integrated photonics.
“We’re excited to see this additional support for SiPhox to scale up the commercial production of this vital—and potentially life-saving—application of integrated biochips using AIM’s 300 mm silicon photonics technology,” said David Harame, AIM Photonics chief operating officer. “It’s critical that we continue to work together with innovative companies like SiPhox to accelerate the domestic development of the technology needed to meet the growing demand not only from the biotech sector, but also from other emerging markets that are equally dependent on silicon photonics technology.”
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.
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 manages programs including the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), the MassBridge manufacturing training program, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program (MMAP), and the mamanufacturing.com portal. Learn more at https://cam.masstech.org/
Brian Noyes, MassTech, (508) 870-0312 X:293, noyes (at) masstech.org
Kelsey Schiller, Kelsey.Schiller (at) Mass.Gov