Grant Will Help Create BlueTech Lab, Boost STEM Talent Pipeline, and Develop Network of National Marine Data Centers
BEDFORD – Governor Maura Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, and Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao joined executives from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to announce a $2,052,767 grant to the MITRE Corporation today to create BlueTech OCEAN (Open Collaborative Experimentation and Acceleration Network), a two-year project that will boost the state’s global leadership in ocean science, marine robotics, clean energy, and other game-changing marine industries.
The grant, funded through MassTech’s Technology & Innovation Ecosystem program, will help MITRE fund and outfit a state-of-the-art BlueTech Lab on its campus in Bedford, create a national marine data network and establish new workforce development programs to promote blue economy career opportunities to students across the state.
“Massachusetts is a global leader when it comes to BlueTech, clean tech, and coastal resiliency,” said Governor Healey. “These grants to MITRE will lengthen our state’s leadership and provide new opportunities for Massachusetts companies and researchers to test their products, access real-time data, and build the pipeline of next-generation BlueTech workers.”
“As a resident of a coastal city, I know firsthand how important marine industry investments like this one are for boosting regional economies and supporting workforce development programs,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “We’re excited this grant will help grow new BlueTech enterprises in our state while advancing cutting-edge research and getting students excited about careers in the blue economy.”
“Massachusetts has a longstanding legacy of innovation and tech that has made us a national leader in sectors like BlueTech,” said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. “Facilities like this play a critical role in transforming R&D innovations into scaled businesses, and we’re excited this new state support will strengthen the network of companies advancing ocean research and help new blue industry companies start and grow here.”
Through BlueTech OCEAN, MITRE, a nonprofit and leading national operator of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, will partner with collaborators from local universities, top marine research institutions, and businesses from around the state that are focused on BlueTech. The state grant, announced on World Oceans Day, will also help MITRE:
Build Out the BlueTech Lab on MITRE’s Bedford campus: The lab will include a state-of-the-art camera/localization system, an unmanned underwater vehicle, and test equipment that will generate data for BlueNERVE as well as commercial enterprises. The lab will be used by researchers, entrepreneurs, and established companies to help accelerate their growth in areas such as undersea sensing, communications, and autonomy.
Create the BlueNERVE Data Network: A national data hub centered in Massachusetts that will connect lab spaces and marine research organizations across the country to establish real-time data sharing and simulation capabilities between MITRE and partner organizations.
Accelerate BlueTech workforce development: MITRE and partners will host projects and experiments designed to encourage them to explore careers in the BlueTech industry, including through experiments hosted at the BlueTech Lab and projects that challenge students to build underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles.
“The oceans are an invaluable resource tied to many of the nation’s biggest challenges, including national security, climate resilience, and economic growth,” said Douglas Robbins, vice president, engineering and prototyping, MITRE Labs. “This project will foster an attractive innovation ecosystem for BlueTech startup companies, providing a first-in-the-nation data sharing capability that will maximize advantages for the region and grow the BlueTech workforce to meet the needs of the New Blue Economy.”
“Massachusetts already has a strong foundation of marine tech research hubs in our state and the partnership established by MITRE points to how BlueTech OCEAN will expand upon that work and drive new opportunities for collaboration and talent development,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “The BlueNERVE network is also intriguing given the national partners that MITRE and the project partners can work with, engaging research labs coast to coast. The ocean economy has been a critical part of the Commonwealth’s history and these types of investments ensure it will stay a critical part of our future.”
“Massachusetts has long been at the cutting edge of marine science and technology,” said Congressman Jake Auchincloss. “This grant doubles down on the Bay State’s blue economy, with benefits for business and workers in southeastern Massachusetts.”
“Ensuring that Massachusetts lives up to our ‘Bay State’ nickname requires significant investments like the one announced today by the Healey-Driscoll administration,” said Congresswoman Lori Trahan. “MITRE has been leading the charge on efforts to study and better understand the ocean and the impacts of climate change for the last 75 years. The BlueTech Lab and BlueNERVE Data Network will leverage MITRE’s expertise and Massachusetts’ remarkable network of researchers and academic institutions to ensure we continue to lead on marine research and climate crisis mitigation.”
“I’m thankful to Governor Maura Healey, Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, and their administration for recognizing the innovative work happening at the MITRE Corporation and supporting their mission to advance blue tech and climate innovation throughout the Commonwealth”, said Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford). “I’m proud that this important work is happening right here in Bedford.”
The grant is funded by the Technology & Innovation Ecosystem program, which aims to advance technology and innovation sector projects or initiatives that contribute to a competitive advantage for existing and emerging industry clusters in Massachusetts. The program is funded through the MassTech Innovation Institute’s Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund.
These awards will bolster the state’s leadership on ocean research and climate, an issue highlighted by the Governor’s signing of Executive Order No. 604 on her first day in office to establish the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience, making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to name a Climate Chief at the cabinet level.