Governor Charlie Baker today toured MatTek Life Sciences, a Massachusetts-based company of 35 years, that is currently participating in the Baker-Polito Administration’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT). This initiative assists local manufacturers in transitioning operations to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical items needed to support the Commonwealth’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Boasting a highly trained scientific staff, expertise in cell culture and building human tissues, and existing relationships with government agencies and the FDA, MatTek was uniquely positioned to shift their operations to support the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. The transition from the manufacture of cell culture media to the production of viral transport media was streamlined with support from the M-ERT’s experts, particularly MIT’s System Design and Management program. In MatTek’s normal operations, many of its 3D tissue types have been used in COVID-19 antiviral research – EpiAirway, EpiOral, and EpiIntestinal – with the EpiAirway tissue being particularly relevant for this research, providing a human-based platform for scientists to get more relevant results much faster than if they used animals.
In addition to providing essential products for COVID-19 research, six weeks ago MatTek also pivoted labs and staff into producing hand sanitizer, and has donated hundreds of liters to local first responders and medical facilities, and shipped thousands of liters across the country.
MatTek has received grant support through the M-ERT’s funding program launched last month to substantially increase their output of viral transport media. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is among the M-ERT partners that have made capital funding available to pivoting manufacturers.
About the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT): The M-ERT is a coordinated response by the Baker-Polito Administration and leading academic and industry stakeholders to support the Commonwealth’s manufacturers in their efforts to produce much-needed supplies for front-line workers and the health care system. The M-ERT is led by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) and members include representatives from: Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), MIT, MIT Lincoln Labs, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), and other industry partners.
The M-ERT also launched $10.6 million in new funding to help manufacturers scale their operations to produce PPE and other critical items. Companies can apply for grants through an online form for equipment, materials, supplies, workforce training and other needs. A Review Committee will process applications based on criteria including production timeline and recommend grant awards.
The M-ERT has graduated 27 companies that have produced almost 3 million PPE items to date. As of Thursday, 704 companies in total have reached out to participate in the M-ERT initiative, including 434 from Massachusetts.