AFFOA launched its first entrepreneurship program in partnership with MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (MIT-VMS) for advanced fibers and fabrics which concluded in March of 2019. The AFEP was created to help facilitate economic activity through pre-commercial enterprise value building, invest in entrepreneurs, business model development and product and market discovery. In addition, it would accelerate the commercialization of advanced fibers, fabrics, and textile products, creating new ventures and new jobs.
The 12-month program was unlike traditional mentoring and training programs in that it provided 20 teams of entrepreneurs with access to the Institute’s advanced technologies, its 120+ membership network and access to equipment and facilities for prototyping. Throughout the year, AFFOA supported nine ventures with prototyping resources, and as a result two ventures have applied for SBIR funding and 58% of teams formed companies with plans to launch products or services in the near future.