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Maryland Commerce Receives Federal Grant to Support Defense Businesses

Funds will re-launch DefTech Center and help manufacturers stay competitive in a changing industry

BALTIMORE, MD (November 30, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Commerce has received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to relaunch the state’s Defense Commercialization (DefTech) Center and to help small businesses serving the defense industry stay competitive by adopting “Industry 4.0” standards. The $641,573 grant comes from the DoD’s Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation.

“Our defense industry is a major driver of innovation in Maryland, and the many small businesses in this sector are important drivers of economic growth,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “This new funding will support Maryland’s ongoing commitment to making sure these businesses thrive and bringing important new technologies to market.”

The DefTech Center was founded in 2018 to help local economies grow by helping entrepreneurs utilize federal lab and defense technologies or resources to develop a product for a non-federal, commercial market and/or to be utilized by the government, also known as technology transfer. Initially funded by the DoD, in partnership with Harford County Office of Community & Economic Development and U.S. Army labs at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the program was later funded in 2019 by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.  The re-funded DefTech program will now be administered by TEDCO. This new round of grant funding allows DefTech to expand its scope to now include collaboration with the state’s Navy labs in their effort through the NavalX Tech Bridges program to not only push technology out to the commercial market but also pull in innovative technologies to advance their mission.

The new DoD funding also allows for the development and implementation of a pilot program focused on prime contractor and subcontractor resiliency.  The Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will manage the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support Program in working with defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Textron to help their first-tier suppliers adopt Industry 4.0 standards.  

“Industry 4.0” refers to the use of automation, smart technology and machine-to-machine communication to enhance traditional manufacturing processes and make them more efficient. By adopting these standards, smaller businesses in the defense supply chain serving as tier one or tier two suppliers will improve efficiencies, increase operational effectiveness and strengthen the overall DoD supply chain, leading to improved productive capacity and better outcomes between suppliers and their customers.

“Maryland MEP is excited for the opportunity to continue to support Maryland’s Defense Industrial Base,” said MEP Executive Director Mike Kelleher. “This creates opportunities for suppliers to work directly with their customers and original equipment manufacturers to utilize Industry 4.0 technologies to enhance the supply chain.”

Earlier this year, Commerce launched another program to support manufacturers embracing Industry 4.0. The Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 grant program provides funding for small- and mid-sized manufacturers to invest in new technology, machinery, and digital business practices.