FuzeHub, the statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, has launched a competitive grant program that will award a total of $400,000 in COVID-19 manufacturing grants.
“In this program, we have a total of $400,000; $100,000 each for two companies that can come up with the ability to manufacture ventilators, and in the area of the N95 respirators or masks we have four $50,000 awards,” said Everton Henriques, NY MEP solutions director for FuzeHub.
The grants will be funded through FuzeHub’s Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, which annually awards some $1 million to bolster New York’s manufacturing, technology and startup arenas. The application deadline is 4 p.m. April 17.
“We support economic development in New York State. In looking at the issues, we recognized that there is a shortage of these particular components, not only nationally, but in New York State,” Henriques explained.
The Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund typically funds two rounds of grants and a commercialization competition, he added.
“We decided that it would be in the interest of the state and communities to repurpose that funding to help offset these needs for materials that are in short supply,” Henriques said.
FuzeHub is particularly interested in the N95 masks for industrial uses. Those masks are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
“It’s important to realize that there are many, many masks out there, but not all are approved, and we’re focusing on masks that we know that once these manufacturers are done they will be able to stay in business, not go out of business immediately,” he said. “People who manufacture NIOSH-approved masks can later satisfy the FDA requirements if they follow the guidelines.”
The NY MEP is a state and federally funded program that is overseen by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR).
The panel reviewing the grant applications will prioritize projects that are clearly defined and ready to be undertaken immediately. Projects will be expected to be completed as quickly as possible to help address emerging shortages of supplies.
“Fuzehub is constantly monitoring the situation and we’re trying to do everything we can to help New York State manufacturers, and in this particular case, the citizens of New York in general,” Henriques said. “The impact (of COVID-19) is — unless you are a required business — your production will be impacted because your workers will not be on the job. The smaller businesses will see an even tighter impact, except the essential businesses. But even then, they’re feeling a strain too.”