By GREGORY ZELLER //
As the COVID-19 fight rages, a statewide manufacturing motivator is throwing a large chunk of change into the ring.
FuzeHub, Albany’s New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership center bridging smaller manufacturing companies and various industry resources, has launched a funding competition, dangling $400,000 in “COVID-19 Manufacturing Grants” before pandemic-minded pugilists.
Specifically, before “small to medium-sized” New York State manufacturers who are up to FDA snuff and capable of “quickly accelerat(ing) production of personal protective equipment that has been depleted due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to FuzeHub.
Noting that manufacturers across the state are “rising to meet the challenges of this unprecedented time,” FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc said the NY MEP created the COVID-19 Manufacturing Grants program specifically to keep supply and distribution lines open, to and from those vital makers.
“They are playing a critical role in the fight to stop the spread of this virus and save lives,” Garuc said Wednesday, adding the grants would “expand resources available to help manufacturers accelerate the production of essential supplies needed on the frontlines of this battle to restore public health.”
The competition will roll along two different tracks, both express: One aims to prevent the coronavirus’ cursed spread, the other to the save the lives of the severely infected. Four $50,000 grants will boost manufacturing of critical PPE, while two $100,000 grants will supercharge manufacturing of desperately needed respiratory care equipment.
Funding comes from FuzeHub’s Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, which annually awards about $1 million to statewide manufacturing, technology and startup ecosystems.
Applications are due by April 17, and because of the pandemic’s “urgent need,” FuzeHub’s submission-review panel will “prioritize projects that are clearly defined and ready to be undertaken immediately,” according to NY MEP, a state- and federally funded program managed by the Empire State Development Corp.’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Ventilators and precious N95 respirator masks, naturally, top the competition wish list – and FuzeHub is keen on making sure smaller manufacturers have the resources they need to make a big difference, according to NY MEP Solutions Director Everton Henriques.
“Our objective is to help manufacturers access necessary funding to quickly expand production of the supplies we need most right now,” Henriques said in a statement. “These grants will serve as a resource to assist manufacturers with increasing capacity in current operations, as well as to pivot production in an effort to build and assemble critically needed items.”