Matt Watson, Center Director, Polaris MEP
Matt Watson
Center Director

Matt Watson joined Polaris MEP as Center Director in early 2023. He 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 is passionate about the success of smaller manufacturers, and about collaborating with partners and legislators to improve both businesses and the state economy. Watson's twenty-year career includes senior/executive roles in both public and private sectors. He brings with him to Rhode Island extensive experience in organizational management, program development, policy, and advocacy. Watson previously managed more than $41 million in annual state 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. In this role, he led the development of new programs and services focused on technology development and commercialization. This attracted significant federal funding to support manufacturing businesses and New York State’s innovation-led growth. 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.