Former Senior VP of Empire State Development Brings Extensive Experience in Federal Fund Management and Innovation Ecosystem Development
Providence, RI – April 7, 2023 – Polaris MEP, Rhode Island’s nonprofit Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center, has hired Matt Watson to lead the economic development organization. Watson comes from the New York MEP system, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Empire State Development (ESD) and Executive Director of ESD’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).
Watson’s hiring concludes a nationwide search. The new Center Director was approved by the Polaris MEP board. Board members said they felt Watson would catalyze mission-driven efforts to help the state’s 1400+ manufacturers seize and create opportunities for growth.
“Matt Watson’s extensive experience in policy, advocacy and federal fund management will be a major asset to legislators and major partners committed to strengthening Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector,” said Christian Cowan, Executive Director of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation. “We are excited about Matt’s vision, which should accelerate innovation in RI’s commercial and technological ecosystem.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to join this team?” said Watson. “I’ll be building on the success of a fantastic team that does incredible work while maximizing the resources they receive, in a fantastic state with so much to offer. I’m honored to join Polaris MEP and help it expand its positive impact on the manufacturing community and Rhode Island’s economy.”
Watson previously managed more than $60 million in annual state and federal funding under the NYSTAR program portfolio, which covered more than 70 innovation ecosystem assets including Centers of Advanced Technology, Innovation Hot Spots, and the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers.
Previous positions include a management role with a leading global strategic communications firm, Fleishman-Hillard, where he advised corporate clients. Watson has served on various boards including NY CREATES, the Advanced Energy Center at Stony Brook University, and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the State University of New York at Albany.
Polaris MEP, the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a business unit of the URI Research Foundation. The nonprofit consultancy works with manufacturing companies, supplying continuous improvement, technology acceleration and workforce services that yield significant impacts. 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