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Funding innovation: the Rhode Island Advanced Materials Innovation Center

October 11th, 2019 / By: / Industry News

Governor Gina Raimondo recently joined with University of Rhode Island (URI) President David Dooley to announce $1 million in funding for the creation of the 401 Tech Bridge, the Rhode Island Materials Innovation Center.

Industry partners will be able to work in the 401 Tech Bridge Center with the University of Rhode Island and entities such as the Navy or agencies such as the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) to explore textile and composite projects for rapid development and deployment. The Center will provide opportunities and resources to galvanize technology commercialization efforts and meet quickly changing demands for national defense, infrastructure and health care.

“The University of Rhode Island continues to contribute to the innovation and growth of Rhode Island’s economy with two new innovation campuses announced today,” said David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island. “401 Tech Bridge builds on the university’s expertise in advanced materials and manufacturing with the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and Polaris MEP to create a center where manufacturers, small businesses, research and development entities, trade organizations, state agencies and defense agencies will innovate and rapidly develop new advanced materials and composites technology for real world applications.”

“Rhode Island has a rich history of textile and composite manufacturing, and the 401 Tech Bridge Materials Innovation Center brings together industry, government and academia to develop new products and quickly commercialize through those partners.” said Christian Cowan, Polaris MEP Center Director. “We are excited to build and test new innovative materials solutions for the State of Rhode Island and for the world.”

“Since its inception, RITIN’s mission has been to make Rhode Island the world’s center for advanced and innovative textile manufacturing,” noted Michael Woody, chair of the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network. “The Materials Innovation Center is a major leap in that direction.”

Productive partnerships

401 Tech Bridge will make Rhode Island a focal point of materials research and development in the Northeast, create a competitive economic advantage for its partners, and provide a model for commercialization centers nationwide. The University of Rhode Island will partner with Polaris MEP, Toray, Composites One, Hope Global, the International Yacht Restoration School of Technology and Trades (IYRS), the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), the Composites Alliance of RI (CARI), the Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network (RITIN), the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA), and DESIGNxRI to create a one-of-a-kind, catalytic center focused on innovation in advanced textiles and composites.

“We could not be more excited for this project to progress materials technology through a critical ecosystem of partnerships. With this and other potential funding, we look forward to partnering in cooperative activities with URI, the U.S. Navy, and industry through the 401 Tech Bridge.” said Cowan.

Polaris MEP will be awarded $1.0 million from Rhode Island’s Innovation Campus bond and will receive and invest more than $5 million in matching funds from other sources, including the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 401 Tech Bridge is projected to create hundreds of jobs over the first ten years of operation.