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Empire State Development Announces Launch of Initiative to Further Support Innovation and Growth for Manufacturers in Western New York

January 12, 2023

Shift 2.0 Program Will Assist Manufacturing Companies with Technological Improvements and Innovation to Increase Productivity and Employment

January 11, 2023 — Empire State Development (ESD) today announced Buffalo Manufacturing Works, operated by EWI, will build on the success of the Shift program, with Shift 2.0, which is designed to move small to medium-sized manufacturers from technology exploration and education to actual technology implementation. The expansion will enable EWI to help companies overcome leading barriers to technology adoptions, including the implementation of rapidly re-deployable automation solutions on their factory floors.

Shift 2.0 will turn innovative strategies for improving Western New York manufacturing facilities into a high-tech reality,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight. “With a goal of bringing more high-quality jobs to the region, Shift 2.0 and Buffalo Manufacturing Works will provide Buffalo-Niagara’s manufacturers with the tools they need to expand and become more competitive. This initiative reflects Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to providing the resources needed to fuel the area’s economic growth.”

Shift 2.0 builds on the established infrastructure of Buffalo Manufacturing Works, which has created a nationally-recognized hub of advanced manufacturing innovation in East Buffalo as an anchor institution at the Northland campus, together with the Northland Workforce Training Center, Buffalo Manufacturing Works is designed to position it as the cornerstone of a growing ecosystem that enables existing manufacturers to become more competitive through innovation; collaboration with and the enhancement of existing workforce development initiatives to grow the regional skill base; and serving as an asset to attract manufacturers to the region that represent the new innovation-driven economy.

EWI President & CEO Henry Cialone said, “Innovative technology levels the playing field for small to medium-sized manufacturers. It allows them to produce better, faster and more efficiently. We know identifying, investing in and implementing that technology can seem like a daunting task for many manufacturers. Shift 2.0 provides education and engineering support for manufacturers who don’t know how or where to start and will help identify advanced manufacturing technology improvements that can be implemented for immediate results at no-cost to the manufacturer thanks to key support from Empire State Development and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.” 

Buffalo Manufacturing Works, operated by EWI, established the “Shift” Program in 2017. Through workshops and a full suite of services it provided unparalleled expertise and tailored solutions to small and medium sized manufacturers (SMMs), allowing them to produce their products better, faster, and more efficiently.  The program’s purpose has been to tailor solutions to help local companies utilize innovative technology to reach their goals.  It has assisted approximately 250 manufacturers over a four-year period, through workshops and a full suite of services tailored to these companies’ needs.

The new Shift 2.0 effort is being financed by a $5 million ESD grant to EWI to build on strategies established for individual companies to help implement advanced manufacturing technologies—known as “Industry 4.0” technologies—which would include, but would not be limited to, digital automation, big data, artificial intelligence, cloud technologies, and collaborative robot technology. The objective of the program is to increase Industry 4.0 technology adoption capacity of Western New York SMMs to drive capital upgrades, productivity growth in manufacturing, global competitiveness, and job retention and creation. This funding expands on the previously announced funding won through the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, allowing Buffalo Manufacturing Works to leverage State and Federal funding to best support Western New York SMMs.

An Industry 4.0 ecosystem will also be developed under the program, including peer groups, technology events, hands-on training, original equipment manufacturer interactions, and other high impact initiatives that support companies as they implement new and innovative technologies. As part of this program, EWI engineers will develop SMM-focused advanced manufacturing technology solutions, including non-fixed equipment such as a mobile collaborative robot (cobot) platform/unit, that will make it easy for SMMs to implement Industry 4.0 technologies into their production processes.

EWI/Buffalo Manufacturing Works anticipates the following results by the completion of the Shift 2.0 in 2025:

  • At least 90 SMMs engaged in the ecosystem through any combination of peer groups,  technology events, business assessments, training, or automation implementation.
  • At least 30 companies completing implementation of an automation system.
  • Tailoring of the core SMM mobile cobot platform/unit specifically for actual use/implementation by SMMs for machine tending and related applications.
  • At least 80 individuals trained either through formal automation classes or as part of SMM implementation projects.
  • Purchase of at least three cobot cells/units to facilitate the creation of a SMM cobot loan program.

Manufacturers interested in participating in Shift 2.0 can find out more about the free program by visiting www.shiftmfg.com.

Buffalo Manufacturing Works is now located in a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility at Northland Central.  It was created through an initial $45 million state investment for operations and fit out on an interim location through ESD’s Buffalo Regional Innovation Cluster initiative, also known as the Buffalo Billion, with an additional $35 million provided to support the organization’s move and expansion to its permanent home on the Northland Campus.

“EDA is proud to support the vision of the Western New York Advanced Manufacturing coalition,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will help transform Buffalo, bringing economic opportunities to communities that need it most, while also positioning the region to remain competitive and on an innovative trajectory for decades to come.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “This expansion will truly allow manufacturers in Western New York to elevate production with innovative, efficient strategies. I’m thrilled to see Buffalo Manufacturing Works and EWI provide this level of support and solution-driven collaboration, and firmly believe it will continue to bolster our workforce and manufacturing industry as a whole.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “I’d like to thank ESD for providing the capital for EWI’s capital improvements, and I’d also like to congratulate and thank EWI for being a resource for regional manufacturers to improve their operations. Increasing efficiencies and production capacities through innovation, technology, workforce development and training leads to more industry competitiveness and better bottom lines for businesses which should translate to better bottom lines for Western New York households.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “This initiative is a wonderful addition to the growing landscape of innovation, manufacturing and technology that has taken root in our city. The growth of technology and jobs are two things that go hand-in-hand. As we see this initiative expand and help small-to-midsized manufacturers, we will also see more jobs added to the, already growing, base of jobs in the city of Buffalo.”

About Empire State Development Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Hochul’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.