Buffalo Billion Phase II Accelerates Innovation

By Ben Rand

Buffalo Manufacturing work partners, EWI and Insyte Consulting, will join to help small to midsize manufacturers (SMMs) improve their competitiveness by adopting new technologies and innovations. The program will be funded through the second phase of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development program and seeks to accelerate the work that Insyte and EWI are already doing under the umbrella of Buffalo Manufacturing Works. The program will deliver education and technology assistance to up to 250 selected SMMs over a three-year period beginning late this year.

All interested SMMs will be invited to complete an online survey which will be used to select a subset of manufacturers for the program. SMMs chosen for Track 1 will have access to workshops, webinars and local innovation resources and be invited to annual regional networking events. These resources are designed to support and prepare manufacturers for later innovation work.

SMMs selected for Track 2 will have access to three different tiers of services. In Tier 1, SMMs may select workshops in technology, innovation and growth to make SMMs aware of the tools and techniques available to improve their competitiveness. These workshops will touch on everything from when and how to apply robotic or additive manufacturing technologies, to how to utilize ideation or install a Lean Product Development (LPD) process. Workshop cohorts will also have the opportunity to network with likeminded SMMs to continue the innovation discussion, share best practices and provide mutual assistance. These workshops will be offered multiple times in various WNY locations to make attendance as convenient as possible for interested participants.

In Tier 2, a limited number of SMMs will be offering Innovation Capacity Audits that will bring experts from EWI and Insyte on site to walk the manufacturing floor and interview key personnel over the course of several days. Opportunities for deploying new technologies, process improvements and best practices will be identified, prioritized and reviewed with management. These audits will be free of charge.

Tier 3 will consist of manufacturer-specific projects designed to address high-priority innovation opportunities through the workshops and Innovation Capacity Audits. Certain SMMs may choose to engage in a customized project which could include an Advanced Manufacturing Implementation Strategy, technology implementation, process improvement, or LPD.

The program is still in the planning stages. Insyte and EWI will be reaching out to certain manufacturers, directly and through manufacturing associations, industrial development agencies and other means, to participate in focus groups to help us further refine the program to ensure we offer maximum value and impact for participating SMMs.