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Massachusetts Innovation Bridge to utilize commonwealth’s technology

On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, a new government-funded program that will create research centers as part of a partnership between the commonwealth and The MITRE Corporation. PHOTO BY SOFIA FARENTINOS/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, a new government-funded program that will create research centers as part of a partnership between the commonwealth and The MITRE Corporation. PHOTO BY SOFIA FARENTINOS/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday a partnership between the commonwealth and The MITRE Corporation to utilize emerging technologies and encourage innovation throughout Massachusetts, according to a Friday press release.

The partnership, called the Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, will establish relationships with schools, scholars and companies working to “enhance federal agency missions,” the release stated.

Baker said in the release that the partnership will improve relationships with federal agencies and serve as a catalyst for innovation in the commonwealth.

“We are uniquely equipped to forge connections between private-sector innovators and the Department of Defense,” Baker said in the release. “The Massachusetts Innovation Bridge will be an important piece of connective tissue in our state’s innovation ecosystem. This first-of-its-kind workplace will foster deep collaboration between Massachusetts researchers and innovators, and mission-driven federal partners hungry for innovative solutions.”

The Innovation Bridge is situated at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston and aims to host hackathons, education events, forums and workshops, according to the press release. Additionally, the Bridge will employ an executive staff provided by MITRE.

Charlie Benway, director of the MITRE Massachusetts Innovation Bridge, said there’s a need for a partnership between innovators and federal agencies.

“The federal government is recognizing that a lot of innovation occurs outside of their funding and procurement streams,” Benway said. “They need a way to capture that innovation and to inject that innovation into its programs.”

Benway said because the partnership receives federal funding, its initiatives must benefit the public as a whole rather than private innovators.

“The MITRE Corporation is a nonprofit corporation as a federally funded research and development center, and so these are chartered to operate in the public interest,” Benway said. “They cannot compete with private companies, and they have to be conflict-free.

Benway described how the partnership aims to close the gap between innovators, federal agencies and MITRE’s seven research centers.

“We’ll do this in several ways,” Benway said. “We’ll perform technology scouting, and we will connect the appropriate technologies and capabilities with the right federal agencies and needs, help evaluate those technologies against the needs. We will help educate the innovation ecosystem in how to do business with federal agencies.”

Kelsey Abbruzzese, spokesperson for MassDevelopment, described the organization’s role in this partnership.

“MassDevelopment is the state finance and development authority, so we work to stimulate economic growth across the commonwealth,” Abbruzzese said. “Our role in the Innovation Bridge is to provide the space at Cambridge Innovation Center of Boston.”

Several Boston residents said they approve of the partnership and hope it will bring higher-paying jobs to the commonwealth.

Bobby Li, 34, of Kenmore, said he is impressed by recent efforts to enhance the commonwealth’s workforce.

“It’s really interesting because you have GE coming to Boston, and now this partnership,” he said. “Combined, it seems like Boston and this whole area is really becoming a great place for people in that field of work. I think Boston, and even Massachusetts, [is] doing a good job of creating jobs.”

Cat Carlton, 56, of East Boston, said she hopes the program will create jobs for the wealth of graduates in the commonwealth.

“That sounds like a good thing for Massachusetts, because so many colleges are here,” she said. “They need to have jobs for all of the students that come here.”

Sara White, 34, of the North End, agreed that the partnership will increase opportunity in Massachusetts.

“I guess it’s a good partnership, especially if it will bring jobs,” she said. “Plus, with technology, that’s such a fast-growing thing right now so those are the types of jobs we need. I’m glad they’re doing it.”

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