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From the Desk of Jack Healy

Massachusetts: A Cradle for Innovation

Jack Healy – The voice of manufacturing in Massachusetts
Jack Healy –
A Voice for Manufacturing in Massachusetts

By Jack Healy, President and CEO, MassMEP
[email protected]

Numerous trees have been killed printing all the negative discussions about factors that are constraining manufacturing growth in Massachusetts. Consequently, there hasn’t been much focus on the positive factors, such as the innovative ecosystem of supplier resources that exist across our state and throughout New England.

Today’s manufacturer:
Matt Edison,
President of Diamond Rolltran

In this slow growth economy, traditional demands related to cost, quality, and delivery are being eclipsed by needs for innovative processes and/or products that will expand markets and provide unique advantages for Massachusetts’ manufacturers. Matthew Edison, President of Diamond Rolltran, best describes our state’s existing ecosystem of supplier resources:

"Massachusetts and the New England area have been outstanding for the growth of our company. We develop products for the military and aerospace markets and our prototype assemblies require short runs of precision parts sometimes with custom tooling. Over 95% of our supplier base is here in New England, with the majority in Massachusetts. The benefit of being able to hop in a car, have a face-to-face discussion with a supplier, and then be home by the afternoon is priceless as it greatly speeds development and getting it right the first time. I am continually impressed by how many companies there are in this region that can support our growth requirements. I worked in Texas and in the Philadelphia metro region, and while they certainly have their strengths, I’m not sure we could have been as successful as we have been here in Massachusetts."

With the exception of Greentown Labs, it has been something of a puzzle to understand why this supportive ecosystem of suppliers has not been connected to the numerous next-generation manufacturers that reside in various incubators across the state.        

Tomorrow’s manufacturer:
Andrew Amigo,
President of Blackburn Energy

While investigating the changing needs of manufacturers, we met the CEO of Blackburn Energy, Andrew J. Amigo. While a corporate attorney who cleaned up intuitional messes created by other people, he decided to start his own enterprise. For the past three years, he has been developing a hands-on system for capturing energy from truck drive shafts that will create a new niche market in existing auxiliary power units. Amigo was working through a variety of innovation centers to accomplish this, before he was, in his own words, "fortunate enough to be invited to a meeting in Greentown Labs."

Amigo thought he knew what was available for startup support until he went to Greentown. Until then, everyone he met told him to go to the Far East, particularly China, to source his products. He found this message overwhelming within the state’s  startup community. "You come to believe that you can’t make it here and therefore you don’t," he stated. Turns out, he only had to go to Greentown Labs in Somerville to overcome the bias of the "go to China message." Eventually, he found the supplier of his most critical part only a mile and half from his home.

MassMEP, through a grant from MassDevelopment, has been supporting the development of supplier resources within the state for connection to Greentown Lab clients. The process starts by matching the right supplier to the needs of the startup, then teaching the startup how to interact with the supplier (often, an education in and of itself). This ecosystem of supplier resources is needed across the state to foster the development and growth of new business products and services in our startup community. These new products need access to suppliers who can produce prototypes and testing equipment. We are fortunate to have such a supply chain to provide these services in our state.

In the year since starting the collaboration with Greentown Labs, MassMEP has surveyed over 50 startups and 60 manufacturers. We’ve initiated over 100 contacts between startups and local manufacturers, with 14 actual signed contracts for support. Other startup supported institutions have now requested Greentown and MassMEP provide similar services at their facilities.

Governor Baker stated at the Greentown Labs 2015 Demonstration Day, "The gift that the Commonwealth can make is to develop businesses that can change the world."

The innovative eco system of supplier resources that exists in our state and in New England can support such innovative growth that could change the world.

Anyone wishing to connect to this supplier system can contact Peter Russo, MassMEP Growth and Innovation Manager, at [email protected]. Find out more about MassMEP Innovative Growth Solutions.


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