Robots + $25k in prizes = A FANTASTIC time
FORGE hit the ground running this fall with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up on Tuesday, September 28th. We collaborated with our event partners, The Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) at MassTech Collaborative, MassMEP, MassRobotics, MassHire, WPI, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assemble a jam-packed day of networking activities and learning opportunities for manufacturing industry players.
The thunder outside may have been loud, but the crowd inside FORGE’s Showcase roared louder. The FORGE Showcase was set up behind first base and included FORGE partners: Alpine Bearing, AMI, Axis New England, Bayard Design, Bossard, Cambridge Polymer Group, Empire Group, Hypertherm Ventures, ICSN, Peko, PMR, Product Resources, and Samtec. With a constant flow of attendees, the partners were able to make connections with potential leads, other manufacturing companies, software companies, and more. The enthusiasm in the air was palpable. Throughout the venue, you could hear people make exclamations like, “We haven’t seen each other in what…two years?” You could also sense the passion people had for advanced manufacturing. One man approached FORGE partner Bossard and proudly reminisced about building a six floor building only using Bossard fasteners. Everyone walked away from Polar Park that day with a pocket full of business cards and an appreciation for the people leading Massachusetts’ manufacturing industry.
The FORGE Startup Pitch Competition gave attendees a glimpse into how innovators can fit into the future of advanced manufacturing. Startups, GenH, Land Maverick, and MacFarlane Medical, gathered at Polar Park’s Concourse stage to compete for the $10,000 FORGE Product Development Grant and the $5,000 Audience Choice Award. FORGE’s expert judging panel included: Sean Killam from MassMEP, Arlene Parquette from Industry Partnerships and Economic Development at UMass Lowell, and Peter Russo from New Approach Development. The startups’ diversity added to the event’s excitement. GenH’s Adaptive Hydro system is designed to electrify non-powered dams and canal heads. Land Maverick’s autonomous robots collect and analyze soil samples to maintain large swathes of land. MacFarlane Medical’s Improved Insulin Delivery system streamlines supplies and time spent managing diabetes.
There were more winners at the Startup Pitch Competition than anyone expected. GenH took home first place and $10,000 grand prize, while MacFarlane Medical claimed the $5,000 Audience Choice Award. FORGE made the surprise announcement that Medical MacFarlane would be taking home another $10,000 from the first ever MERT 2.0 Product Development Funding for medical and life science manufacturing. Off stage, however, the audience members’ engagement with and responses to each pitch indicated that there was more to celebrate: the innovation taking place. These forward thinking entrepreneurs are building their supply chains right here in Massachusetts, with support from FORGE, representing wins for local manufacturers.
The Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up kicked off for Manufacturing Month, which is celebrated in October. The event attracted over 600 attendees and 50 state legislators who awarded the 6th annual Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus Awards. State leaders Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Senator Lesser, and Representative Roy spoke and reinforced how critical the industry will be to the Commonwealth’s future. Other highlights included sessions by event partners for attendees on attracting and retaining manufacturing employees, robotics solutions for the manufacturing floor, cyber security, and more.
FORGE was beyond thrilled to collaborate on this event, and as always, plans on leveraging this momentum to support innovators in-state and the advanced manufacturers bringing their prototypes to life.