Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT) 2.0 Awards First Round of Awards in Prototyping Grant Program

Six Massachusetts Startups Receive Funds; New Applications Being Accepted

(Boston – June 30, 2022) Today, the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team 2.0 (MERT 2.0), announced that the first awardees have been chosen for the Prototyping Grant Program. These companies will receive non-dilutive funding through the program. The grants support the ongoing development of new manufactured products and can be used to support prototyping and other product development services for Massachusetts-based companies.

Judges from the eight organizations involved in the program selected the first round winners. Each startup applied to receive up to $15,000 to use with a supplier on a specific prototyping or testing task. The grants are based on supporting documentation showing how the funding will accelerate prototyping. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year until $150,000 is disbursed.

The following companies received first round grants:

  • 3Daughters, ($6,000) A female founded startup that is developing a long-acting reversible contraceptive designed to improve upon current intrauterine devices (IUDs).

  • Advanced Silicon Group ($15,000) A nanotechnology startup working to develop next generation biosensors.

  • AeroShield Materials Inc. ($13,830) A startup developing super-insulating, transparent coatings for windows, delivering state-of-the-art thermal comfort and energy savings.

  • Neurable ($14,750) A startup working to make neurotechnology accessible and usable in everyday life.

  • Phoenix Tailings ($5,405) A startup on a mission to be the world’s first clean mining and metals production company.

  • USJETi ($13,060) Founded by Richard and Mei Jarvis, the Diver Alert Distress System (TM) (pat. pending) alerts the surface when a diver may be in distress.

“We had planned to award approximately $40K in each of four rounds,” said Barbara Finer, FORGE’s Director Northeast MA and a member of the subcommittee. “However, supply chain challenges are escalating. The longer a startup has to wait to place an order, the higher the cost of the materials. As a result, the awards had to be front-loaded.”

“The applications were extremely competitive,” said Ellen Piccioli, director of Manufacturing Innovation at WPI. “The winners clearly articulated the needs being addressed, how their solutions were differentiated, and how the awards would accelerate their development, enabling them to scale and get to market faster.”

According to Arlene Parquette, associate vice chancellor, industry partnerships and economic development at UMass Lowell, preference was given to startups able to articulate impact such as job creation.

The United States Economic Development Agency funded MERT 2.0 with $3.3M

In 2021, United States Economic Development Agency (EDA) provided $3.3 million in funding for the program. MERT 2.0 builds on the original EDA program, creating a sustainable network to support the regional manufacturing ecosystem and to ensure the Commonwealth is prepared to face ongoing manufacturing challenges, future pandemics, and other crises. The participating partners include:

“The EDA grant is helping to combine the assets of our Massachusetts ecosystem – great research universities, state and nonprofit economic development drivers, and federal partners – to support the growth of startups, and the small and medium-sized manufacturers who make up our domestic supply chain,” said Julie Chen, UMass Lowell Chancellor.

“The Commonwealth’s ecosystem players are more collaborative than ever, and FORGE is proud to be a part of the MERT 2.0 project,” said Laura Teicher, executive director of FORGE. “This will ensure we continue to leverage lessons learned during the pandemic and continue to strengthen innovative manufacturing and agile production in the state.”

The deadline for the next round is July 15, 2022. Click here for more information or to apply.

# # #