What politicians hope the institute will create: fabrics and fibers with a range of technical capabilities — from "being incredibly lightweight or flame-resistant to storing energy or having exceptional strength." Applications include advances in health care, military technology, wearable technology, and fashion. Simply put: leaders at the new institute hope to revolutionize textile manufacturing.
The new institute is the eighth manufacturing hub selected by the Obama administration for President Obama’s federal manufacturing initiative called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. "Massachusetts already has connections with two regional manufacturing centers — one for photonics and one for flexible hybrid electronics — but this is the first to be based in the state," says WBUR reporter Zeninjor Enwemeka.
Nearly 90 businesses, universities, and nonprofits from across the country will comprise the initiative, including:
- The University of Massachusetts, providing expertise in flexible electronics and wearable technology
- Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, providing training for skilled workers
- Such companies as New Balance, Nike, Bose, and Intel.
"The institute will have a prototyping facility designed to help startups test their first products and scale up new technologies into full production," adds Enwemeka.
What the institute means for Massachusetts manufacturing
The new institute will boost the state’s manufacturing sector and innovation economy, officials say. MIT plans to get the initiative off the ground in six months.