Greentown Learn: MassLive Feature

Overhead Image of Interior at Greentown Labs Showing Desks and People

Western Massachusetts has been a hub of manufacturing for nearly two centuries. Whether it be the precision manufacturing of muskets in the 1790s, the first use of interchangeable parts in the 1819 assembly line, or the advanced manufacturing of products designed for today’s innovation ecosystem, the region has continuously played a major role.

Today, Western Massachusetts is well-positioned to take advantage of the innovation ecosystem that is surging throughout the Commonwealth. Programs such as Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s Baystate Business Link and Greentown Learn’s Manufacturing Initiative are successfully connecting businesses from all parts of the state.

Greentown Learn, the sister nonprofit organization of Greentown Labs in Somerville and the largest cleantech incubator in the country, is working to connect startups from the Greater Boston area to manufacturers throughout Western Massachusetts. To date, the Manufacturing Initiative has resulted in over 900 connections between startups and manufacturers. Hardware startups face unique challenges to manufacture their products, which often leads them to think they need to go overseas for a manufacturing partner. The Manufacturing Initiative makes their journey easier by identifying local manufacturers who are ready and willing to work with young and innovative companies and provide them with supportive programming.

Greentown Learn opened in Springfield in early 2017 to strengthen the innovation pipeline and leverage the strong regional network of manufacturers in Western Massachusetts, focusing on making connections between Eastern Massachusetts companies and Western Massachusetts manufacturers. This mission ties in closely with the goals of Speaker DeLeo’s Baystate Business Link, which aims to ensure that businesses and students outside of the Greater Boston area are given a seat at the table.

Recently, Greentown Learn brought startups from the Greater Boston area to visit manufacturing facilities in Western Massachusetts, including Trident Alloys, Worthington Assembly, Cofab Design, and the new Valley Venture Mentors Innovation Hub. Greentown Learn arranges targeted visits like these to help startups build relationships with manufacturers and suppliers at a key point in their development. The visits also allow startups to witness firsthand useful processes they may administer and foster personal connections with local manufacturers. Most importantly, these visits are not just a learning experience – they also result in right-fit contracts and ongoing relationships, keeping manufacturing – and jobs – here in the Commonwealth. To date, the Manufacturing Initiative has resulted in over 90 contracts to manufacture innovative products in the region. In fact, Peerless Precision, a manufacturing company in Westfield, created two cylinders used today in Rise Robotics’ energy-efficient electric actuator at Greentown Labs.

There is a strong network of manufacturers in Western Massachusetts, and the innovation ecosystem in the region is poised for increasing growth and success. UMass students have long been a source of innovative product ideas. In addition to bringing startups to the region to produce their products, the Manufacturing Initiative will continue to be a resource, through its suite of programming, for hardware startup companies that have roots in the region.

I am happy to support Greentown Learn’s continued expansion in Western Massachusetts by deepening its relationships with local manufacturers. Greentown Learn is expanding to offer more workshops for startups and manufacturers like the Design For Manufacturing workshop.

Thanks to programs like Greentown Learn and the Baystate Business Link, Western Massachusetts has the potential to internally grow quality manufacturing jobs. By building connections between manufacturers in our backyard and startups in Greater Boston, we can be the glue that grows jobs in Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield and the entire region.

Original Article:

Creating networks to grow quality manufacturing jobs in Western Massachusetts