By Jeff Lawrence, originally published in Fuze Hub on 12/2/16.

FuzeHub Launches State-Wide Five-Million Dollar Fund to Support Innovation & Manufacturing Throughout New York

FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization responsible for assisting small to medium manufacturing companies (SMEs) in New York State by matching them with technical and business resources, has launched the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund. Lawrence, who passed away in 2015, was a top executive at the Center for Economic Growth and a champion for New York manufacturing and entrepreneurial communities.

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund, consisting of $1 million annually for five years, supports a set of activities designed to spur technology development and commercialization across New York State. FuzeHub is administering this fund as part of its role as the Empire State Development (ESD) designated statewide Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center.

“We have an extensive network of organizations that work closely with the industry to ensure that New York State’s companies remain as competitive as possible. The Manufacturing Innovation Fund will allow even more companies to take advantage of these critical services and receive world class technical expertise,” said Matt Watson, director of Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation.

Through the fund, FuzeHub offers Manufacturing Innovation Grants on a quarterly basis. The grants are available to non-profit organizations and higher education institutions in New York State proposing projects to be undertaken with small and mid-sized manufacturers or early stage companies. Projects can include prototype development, proof-of-concept manufacturing, certain equipment purchases, manufacturing scale-up, market identification, and other projects to advance manufacturing capabilities.

New York state is home to a rich network of innovation assets and other resources that can help manufacturers and start-up companies develop or improve products and their manufacturing capabilities; but cost can be a barrier to companies utilizing those resources. The new Manufacturing Innovation Grants, with award sizes ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 each, are intended to offset costs and help more small and mid-sized manufacturers succeed in New York State.

“The fund will fill such an important gap in the New York State innovation ecosystem’s ability to move promising companies and products toward commercial success. The entire FuzeHub team is passionate about helping small and mid-sized manufacturers, and we are confident that these grants will have a meaningful impact in terms of enabling companies to ultimately create jobs and make new investments here in New York as they grow,” said FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc. “In my dozen years working with Jeff at the Center for Economic Growth, I saw the passion he had for his work, and it was contagious. He had a significant impact on my career as a mentor; it was only fitting that the fund be named in his honor,” she added.

“Too often, companies fail to overcome start-up hurdles or sustain their competitiveness because they lack the resources to engage partners that can help them with technological and innovation challenges. FuzeHub’s grant program is a welcome new resource that will make that engagement more affordable,” said Richard E. Honen, chair of the selection panel for the grants and a partner at Phillips Lytle LLP.

FuzeHub is pleased to announce the first set of grantees:

Alfred Technology Resources, Inc DBA IncubatorWorks – $75,000
IncubatorWorks’ project with Emission Logistics will support market identification, manufacturing-related equipment purchase and manufacturing scale-up for emission control devices in vehicles. Emission Logistics’ focus is on the development and manufacture of emission control devices that address the negative health, safety, and environmental impact of exposure to diesel and other fossil fuel emissions. (Southern Tier)

Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership – $75,000
This project involves the expansion of manufacturing capacity and capability for Extreme Molding, a contract manufacturer, that has had exponential growth inside the Watervliet Arsenal since 2002. Extreme Molding manufactures using silicone and plastic materials often in unique combinations. They do full packaging and order fulfillment for 85% of their customers, shipping around the world including exports to Asia. The primary markets they serve are infants, toddlers, pet care, and high end consumer products. (Capital Region)

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) – $30,000
The Center of Excellence in Advanced & Sustainable Manufacturing’s proof-of-concept manufacturing project with Markin Tubing will help the company identify new materials and processes to further enhance the performance of its coated steel tubing products, which are primarily sold to the automotive industry. The proposed innovation is designed to have a significant impact on Markin Tubing’s ability to continue to grow and thrive in the Finger Lakes region. (Finger Lakes)

Tech Valley Center of Gravity – $75,000
The Tech Valley Center of Gravity, a makerspace in Troy, NY, is expanding their services to support NYS manufacturers with a Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC). Manufacturers and start-ups will have access to more equipment that will enable them to build prototypes of manufactured goods. No such center exists in the Capital Region for both entrepreneurs and manufacturers alike to work on prototypes. Five companies have committed to use the RPC in the first year, and as many as 20 companies a year will have access to the Center’s equipment. One Husdon, Shandor Engineering, Beckmann Engineering, Self Array, and Axiom North America, LLC will all use the RPC when it is complete. (Capital Region)

The next open application period will begin on Friday, December 2nd and close on Friday, December 30th. The application is available here.

Beyond the grants, additional activities to be supported by the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund include commercialization and innovation focused challenges and competitions, as well as initiatives to address critical opportunities within New York’s advanced technology industries.

“The Center for Economic Growth commends FuzeHub for the creation of the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund. For more than 20 years at CEG, Lawrence was an advocate for the Capital Region’s manufacturers and start-up community by mentoring, advising and collaborating with thousands of local businesses. This new fund acknowledges Jeff’s tireless contributions to the Capital Region’s manufacturing community and to the state’s network of MEP providers by ensuring much needed resources are available to assist small and medium sized manufacturers to continue to innovate and become more competitive in the global marketplace,” said Center for Economic Growth President and CEO Andrew S. Kennedy.

For more information click here or contact FuzeHub Industry Engagement Manager Amber Mooney at amber@fuzehub.com.

About Jeff Lawrence
During his more than 20 years at the Center for Economic Growth, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate in the Capital Region where he served as executive vice president, and MEP Center Director, Jeff Lawrence directed programs of direct assistance to manufacturers and technology companies to increase their competitiveness. He is remembered for being an invaluable and generous mentor to many in the area’s business community and a tireless advocate for manufacturing innovation throughout New York.

About FuzeHub
FuzeHub is a not-for-profit organization that connects New York’s small and mid-sized manufacturing companies to the resources, programs and expertise they need for technology commercialization, innovation, and business growth. Through our custom assessment, matching, and referral platform, we help companies navigate New York’s robust network of industry experts at Manufacturing Extension Partners centers, universities, economic development organizations, and other providers. FuzeHub is the statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) center, supported by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation. For more information on FuzeHub, visit www.fuzehub.com.

About Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR)
Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) mission is to advance technology innovation and commercialization in New York State. NYSTAR’s programs are designed to enable new and existing businesses to become more competitive through the use of innovative technologies, and emphasize the importance of working with industry to leverage the state’s technology strengths. Through funded programs that support world-class technology research at colleges and universities, NYSTAR works to promote a robust network of industry-university partnerships throughout the state. It administers the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides direct technology assistance to small and medium size manufacturers.