“The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) and the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NHMEP) offices have embedded three personnel at ARMI | BioFabUSA in Manchester, NH to talk with local manufacturers in the area about the mission, message and opportunities for new tissue engineering initiatives as a future direction for their firms,” said John Killam, President of MassMEP, adding, “with two Manufacturing USA Institutes in New England focused on cells (NIIMBL) and now tissue and organs (ARMI), there is so much a small local manufacturer can lend to this new industry in the way of processes and procedures. Now, we must educate them to what they can become in bio fabrication.”
The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), and the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NHMEP) are a part of the national MEP system, a leading resource for local manufacturers. There are 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and they employ over 1,300 manufacturing experts at over 400 service locations. In 2017, the MEP National Network connected with 26,313 manufacturers, leading to $12.6 billion in sales, $1.7 billion in cost savings, $3.5 billion in new client investments, and helping to create and retain more than 100,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Committed to success in all facets of manufacturing, Mass & NH MEPs help to transform small companies through solutions focused on innovative growth, operational excellence, and training and workforce development.
“Our consultative model ensures that the mission, message and model of ARMI/BioFabUSA will be shared across states pinpointing companies who are likely to become involved in R&D or 3D or scaffolding or QC,” Killam continued.
“The NH MEP now has one employee embedded to build capacity in the ARMI/BioFabUSA network of MEP centers and help technologies and potential partners,” said Zenagui Brahim, President, and New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NHMEP).
ARMI caught up with the embedded MEPs at ARMI | BioFabUSA to talk about what they do and how they assist Members:
Mike Pisani, Director of Outreach and Membership Services began his tenure at ARMI/BioFabUSA in January 2018 with the goal to serve as a “trusted advisor” to potential members and member organizations, guiding them through the opportunities and benefits to engaging with local MEP center(s) and the ARMI | BioFabUSA Institute.
According to Pisani, “We often meet with local companies to identify opportunities for engagement first hand. There’s no replacement for boots on the ground, so conducting site visits allows us to construct “asset maps” of local capabilities that may benefit other companies in the network. As we continue to speak with and visit organizations of varying sizes, financial positions, and learn their assets and capabilities, these insights into the local landscape allows us to partner organizations and fill gaps that would otherwise require duplication of efforts, slowing pace of innovation and creating undue expense.”
Commenting on how local manufacturing can expand into the new biofabrication area, Pisani continued.
“When it comes to manufacturing many of the tried and true elements go across industries, so in an effort to avoid reinventing the wheel it is our goal to build on sound experience and expertise. In order to enable the large scale manufacture of engineered tissues and tissue related products, leveraging decades – and in some cases centuries – of experience in fields like manufacturing, engineering, automation, and precision machining will be critical foundations upon which the future of technology can be built.”
Pisani noted that through programs and via connections with partner organizations, companies new and old can gain valuable insight into this new biofabrication industry from trusted mentors. “We are matchmakers,” he said.
“Talent acquisition, education and workforce development will also be the keys to sustainment of industries, and the prosperity of US manufacturing, so a great deal of emphasis is put on training of all levels from “K to gray,” he noted.
Taylor Warren, Outreach Coordinator, holds a combined MEP position for both ARMI and NIIMBL (http://www.niimbl.us) summed up her mission this way:
“I come not only with a background in the sciences; but I also grew up in the local area so it was really exciting to see ARMI establish itself in the Manchester Millyard. ARMI has the potential to change not only the landscape of New Hampshire, but also human lives on a broader scale. We are essentially building a new industry, and it is going to take a lot of different perspectives from different industries such as automation, manufacturing equipment, tissue engineering, etc. to create the new Biofabrication industry,” she said.
Currently Taylor is focused on finding small to medium-sized manufacturers, advising them on what ARMI is doing, and bringing them together with larger companies so that they can gain traction in the field and provide the innovations that are needed to really push the industry forward.
“Also, we are educating companies to the merits of relocating to this area specifically so that ARMI creates the ‘Silicon Valley’ of regenerative medicine. People are so excited about the work that we are doing, we are already seeing that happening here,” she said.
Lexi Garcia, who joined BioFabUSA in March 2018 as an Outreach Coordinator from the NH MEP office said, “Since the regenerative manufacturing industry is still in its infancy, my goal is to help generate as many mutually beneficial relationships as possible to enable the industry’s ecosystem to thrive. A large part of that involves knowing the players currently at the cutting edge of the regenerative tissues science and connecting them with organizations who can assist in development up and down the manufacturing stream.”
She added, “Sometimes that assistance comes in the form of workshops that share innovations on the technology available, providing webinars to assist in the scale-up process, or providing a valuable connection who can act as a case study on the regulation process.”
Commenting on the state of NH and a nascent industry, Garcia noted:
“We don’t want to see amazing ideas dying on the laboratory floor, we want to connect the dots so that the next big thing in regenerative medicine is realized and propels the whole industry forward. As a NH native, I’d love to see this rising tide lift many of the great manufacturing companies, education institutions and communities across the state.”