"Helping Mass. firms make D.C. connections" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff April 23, 2016
Massachusetts will spend $1 million to help the state’s most technically sophisticated companies showcase their products and services to federal agencies.
“We’re calling it the Innovation Bridge,” said Katie Stebbins, assistant secretary of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “It’s a bridge into opportunities with the federal government.”
Based at CIC Boston, a business incubator on Milk Street, the Innovation Bridge will be funded by MassDevelopment, a state-sponsored economic development agency, and managed by the MITRE Corp., a nonprofit think tank that conducts advanced research for the US military and many civilian federal agencies. The Massachusetts National Guard will act as a liaison between local companies and military departments in need of innovative products and services.
Feels like a war economy to me.
Paul McMorrow, director of policy and communications for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, called the new initiative “a low-cost, high-opportunity play” where “mission-driven federal agencies can come together and plug into the broader Massachusetts innovation ecosystem.”
MITRE is jointly based in McLean, Va., and in Bedford, where it operates a research campus that employs 1,700 people. Peter Sherlock, director of MITRE’s Bedford facility, said that while MITRE is best known for its work with the Pentagon, the company also conducts research for the Federal Aviation Administration and the departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, among others. Sherlock said that all these agencies could benefit by getting better access to the latest innovations from small high-tech businesses.
“The federal sector tends to source its innovations from a somewhat limited pool of companies,” Sherlock said, “and this is really intended to broaden the sources of innovation available to the federal government.”
Sherlock said MITRE’s experience with Boston-based business startup accelerator MassChallenge helped inspire the project.
“Just from our work with MassChallenge we’ve come across some other companies that are of interest to our federal sponsors,” he said.
For example, MassChallenge alumnus Voxel8 used a new 3-D printing technique to produce electronics components. MITRE realized the technology could help develop inexpensive antennas for military radios and put Voxel8 in touch with the Defense Department.
Sherlock said the Innovation Bridge is designed to provide a permanent channel between government and local innovators, making it easier for companies to bring new products to market.
Not that $1 million dollars is a lot, but we are talking about a state whose social services are in shreds, schools allegedly underfunded, and whose health care for the poor is about to be rationed and yet they still have tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to give to profitable entities like GE, pharmaceuticals, Hollywood, and other well-connected interests and concerns.