Etching is one of several processes in the ChemArt Co. tool kit that could one day be used for some new product to complement the ornaments and jewelry the firm already makes.
Later this year, the Lincoln manufacturer will have the option of utilizing an innovation engineer schooled in helping companies sort out how to best use established know-how to expand.
An innovation engineer and a second specialist with similar skills will be made available for hire as part of the new services the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service, a 20-year-old nonprofit, offers as it gets a makeover.
The nonprofit, commonly known as RIMES, is in transformation mode, a process existing staff, who have been retained, will help nurture, said Jim Petell, associate vice president of research and economic development at the University of Rhode Island and executive director for URI Research Foundation.
Besides a name change, services will be targeting innovation and the economic stimulation that implies, especially for smaller manufacturers and startups, Petell said.
Bringing innovation engineers onboard is already under way, he added.
“I will be one of their first clients when they hire an innovation engineer,” said Dave Marquis, ChemArt president and chairman of the organization’s advisory board. “We’re a small company with 100 people. I’m trying to find another niche to go into.”
Last April, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., awarded the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation a cooperative agreement to manage RIMES, temporarily renamed Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Partnership – or RIMEP – as of Jan. 1, said Jennifer Huergot, director of media relations for the institute, which helps manufacturing-extension partnerships throughout the country improve competitiveness. Other states that use the model of a university or university foundation working with the institute through a cooperative agreement include, among others, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin, she said.
As RIMEP evolves, it will continue to offer “lean” efficiency-oriented programs and other services for which it is known, Petell said. But by late February or early March, the nonprofit and its programs will be rebranded in ways Petell said he could not yet discuss.