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UMass Lowell, partners receive $3.3 million grant for manufacturing

UMass Lowell plastics engineering faculting members working in the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center in Lowell have been awarded $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop recyclable plastics and manufacturing technologies to help the country improve its environmental sustainability. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSON IMAGES
UMass Lowell plastics engineering faculting members working in the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center in Lowell have been awarded $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop recyclable plastics and manufacturing technologies to help the country improve its environmental sustainability. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSON IMAGES
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LOWELL –  Several Massachusetts universities and research organizations received $3.3 million from the federal government to build on pandemic-era efforts to manufacture personal protective equipment and other essential supplies in the Bay State, officials announced Thursday.

UMass Lowell and its partners in the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team, or MERT, will use the CARES Act grant to continue producing PPE, expand manufacturing capabilities to cover other medical supplies and devices, and develop training and curriculum aimed at job creation in the wake of COVID-19.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all learned how important this supply chain is to our community,” UMass Lowell Vice Chancellor for Research Julie Chen said in a statement. “By establishing a network to assist these companies in connecting to prototyping and small-lot manufacturing, technical experts, business and market analysis experts, workforce development, and other suppliers and customers, we will create a foundation for an agile and resilient technology-and manufacturing-based economy.”

The original MERT effort helped produce more than 15 million pieces of PPE, ventilators and other equipment after it launched early in the pandemic, according to UMass Lowell.

The MERT 2.0 effort includes UMass Lowell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, FORGE, MassRobotics and Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.