NEC Members to Develop Smart Fabrics With Defense Department

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently announced that the Department of Defense will partner with Advanced Functional Fibers of America (AFFOA), a consortium of colleges, universities, businesses, and non-profits to create a new institute devoted to developing “revolutionary fibers and textiles.” The consortium is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a New England Council member, and includes several other New England Council members – New Balance, MassMEP, Connecticut College of Technology, Drexel University, and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

The new manufacturing innovation institute will take advantage of New England’s network of textile manufacturers and innovators, in conjunction with manufacturers throughout the United States. The institute will allow organizations that wouldn’t typically work together to team up to develop a new generation of fabrics and fibers. These fibers might be able to store information or energy, change colors, or even hear and see. Such fibers could prove revolutionary in both military and business contexts. The institute’s headquarters will be at MIT in Cambridge, and will house a prototyping facility to help startups test and scale their innovative products.

“The reality is that … we don’t know all the advances this new technology will make possible. That’s the remarkable thing about innovation, and it’s another reason why America and America’s military must get there first,” Secretary Carter said at the announcement of the institute. “This will ensure that the innovations needed to develop, manufacture and commercialize these cutting-edge materials will happen right here in America.”

The  New England Council congratulates all involved members on being selected to participate in this groundbreaking work.

Read more in The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

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