Polaris MEP Opens Applications for Round 1 of New Rhode Island Defense Supply Chain Program

Home / News / Polaris MEP Opens Applications for Round 1 of New Rhode Island Defense Supply Chain Program

by | Feb 14, 2023

by | Feb 14, 2023

“RI MADE” to Fund Assessments and Projects for Smaller Manufacturing Companies in Automation & Robotics, Cyber Resiliency and Risk Mitigation Resources

Providence, RI – February 14, 2023 – Applications are now open for RI MADE, the new defense manufacturing program funded by Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) and powered by Polaris MEP. The entry form can be found at go.PolarisMEP.org/RIMade.

Wordmark logo - RI MADE Defense Supply Chain - Polaris MEP, URI Research FoundationRI MADE, which stands for Rhode Island Manufacturing to Accelerate the Defense Ecosystem, was awarded a $5 Million grant by the OLDCC in the fall of 2022 to strengthen and expand Rhode Island’s maritime defense industrial base.

Christian Cowan, the Executive Director of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, said that the program concept is based on data and demand from manufacturers.

“The 2022 Polaris MEP State of Manufacturing survey indicated the need for investments in cybersecurity, automation and resiliency which are critical to keep the defense supply chain strong in Rhode Island, but for smaller manufacturers the price tag can feel too big,” said Cowan. “RI MADE connects our local manufacturing sector with a new level of support for growth and stability.”

The program will be managed by Polaris MEP, while at the same time giving college students a unique skills opportunity. Cowan explained that RI MADE involves multiple stakeholders in a multi-year effort:

  • At least 50 manufacturing companies in Rhode Island who currently are contracting/subcontracting in defense, or who have plans to do so
  • Skilled manufacturing advisors at Polaris MEP, Rhode Island’s Center within the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network
  • Partners ARM (Advanced Robotics Manufacturing) Institute and MxD (Manufacturing x Digital)
  • An estimated 675 University of Rhode Island (URI) professors and students

Applications opened February 1, 2023 at go.PolarisMEP.org/RIMade. The deadline to be considered for the first round is March 1. After that date, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and a second round of companies will begin their RI MADE projects in the summer of 2023. Teams of URI faculty and students will conduct assessments beginning in late march and report findings in April.

Per Polaris MEP’s 2022 “State of Rhode Island Manufacturing” study, the Defense subsector creates more than $5 billion of economic impact in the Ocean State. The same report included survey data showing that nearly half of RI manufacturing leaders felt “new technology, equipment or automation” was a top driver of growth for their company. Finally, the study showed that only 36% of manufacturers were focused on increasing cybersecurity, despite demand from buyers.

“For many years, Polaris MEP offered education and assistance with technology investments such as cybersecurity or robotics, but the cost of capital and subject matter experts were typically too expensive for smaller manufacturers to implement,” said Cowan. “This program mitigates expense risk and boosts their success through funding, a smart plan, knowledgeable advisors and implementation support.”

About Polaris MEP

Polaris MEP provides competitive business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. In FY 2022 the statewide nonprofit organization reported positive economic impacts of: $96.9M total increased or retained sales; $18.6M new client investments; $3.5M cost savings; and 974 jobs added or retained in the state of Rhode Island.

An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the consultancy is a business unit of the URI Research Foundation. www.PolarisMEP.org

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