Entrepreneurs have been developing innovative products in the city of Pittsfield for years, and a new generation is building on that history. Someday these new entrepreneurs might turn the city into a high-tech hub. General Dynamics Mission Systems has been devising high tech systems for both combat ships and submarines. Pittsfield is also currently home to a company developing cutting-edge video editing techniques for major social media companies, a firm that has constructed a state-of-the-art aerospace testing chamber at the Berkshire Innovation Center, and another that is developing underwater vehicles.
Now add another company to that mix: United Aircraft Technologies. The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a $300,000 allocation from the former GE Economic Development Fund that will allow the burgeoning startup to move to Pittsfield from Troy, N.Y. (For the record, UAT is not affiliated with United Technologies of Connecticut, the multinational conglomerate that merged with the Raytheon Company in April.)
UAT is currently developing a smart interconnecting clamp system for aircraft that is designed to improve fuel economy and simplify maintenance. UAT is co-owned by a husband-and-wife team: Daryian Rhysing, the firm’s chief technology officer, and Evaguel Rhysing, the chief executive officer. Mr. Rhysing developed the device while attending the engineering program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, where he enrolled after spending 20 years as an aircraft mechanic, a career that included two tours of duty with the U.S. Army in the Middle East.
Investing in a startup can often be a gamble, but UAT arrives here with bona fides. The company received $25,000 for finishing first in the inaugural Berkshire Manufacturing Innovation Challenge, a competition that Lever, a small business accelerator based in North Adams, held during the winter of 2019. It then received an additional $50,000 for development after being selected as one of four gold-level winners at the MassChallenge accelerator program’s competition in Boston last fall. Lever CEO Jeffrey Thomas told the City Council on Tuesday night that his firm is considering granting an additional $100,000 to UAT to help the company develop its products.
Funding from the city’s Economic Development Fund is supposed to be used to spur economic development in the city in the wake of General Electric’s departure. While some previous requests from the fund have met resistance from the City Council, we are delighted that UAT’s sailed through. It’s hard to argue with UAT’s plans: Evaguel Rhysing said seven of the company’s 11 current employees will be based in the city and six more could be added by 2022. She told councilors that UAT was interested in moving to Pittsfield to be closer to its manufacturer, Sinicon Plastics in Dalton, and that it wants to become part of the local entrepreneurship community. The economic development package the city granted to UAT is structured in the form of a 10-year loan.
UAT is also the first startup that Lever has helped develop to the point that it is sinking its roots into the Berkshires. Thomas told the council that Lever’s goal is to develop companies that will provide jobs in the Berkshires. UAT is a good example and Lever should be recognized for first seeing this company’s potential.