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Investing in innovation
By Jessica David / February 3, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

Together with the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, we’re investing $175,000 in the Rhode Island Composites Alliance. Launched with support from stakeholders like the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and the IYRS School of Composites Technology, the Alliance already has 50 members.

We invested because we believe there are opportunities in Rhode Island for growth, diversification, and innovation at existing businesses. The potential appears often where our strengths and traditional industries intersect with new market opportunities.

 

Composites is certainly one great example of that. Rhode Island’s boat-building industry was an early pioneer in working with composite materials. Now they are extending that expertise into industries like furniture, defense, and even musical instruments. They’re doing cutting-edge innovation with the artistry of craftsmen.

With at least 75 companies working in some aspect of composite building, Rhode Island has critical mass coupled with strong education and training capabilities, mold-building capacity, and a long tradition of innovation. That is a niche with great promise.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk about these kinds of opportunities, but actually doing something about them requires support. That’s why we’re investing in important intermediaries like the Composites Alliance. They know their industry. They know what companies need. They can support and amplify the success of individual companies and build the industry as a whole and create good-paying jobs.

The timing is good. According to the American Composites Manufacturers Association, the composites industry is projected to grow by 6.5 percent annually through 2020.

Getting results takes a combination of big picture vision and unrelenting energy and actual on-the-ground doing. We saw these things very early on in the Composites Alliance, and we’re convinced big things are on the horizon.

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