Obama Administration Launches Competition For Three New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

WASHINGTON, DC (TIP): The Obama Administration announced May 9 that it is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies – Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. To build off the initial success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, the President announced in the State of the Union that his Administration would move forward and launch three new manufacturing innovation institutes this year.

The President will continue to call on Congress to act on his proposal for a one-time $1 billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country. President Obama is committed to making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing so we continue to build things the rest of the world buys. After shedding jobs for a decade, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 over the past three years.

Manufacturing production has grown since the end of the recession at its fastest pace in over a decade. To build on this momentum, the President has outlined a concrete and comprehensive agenda to invest in American manufacturing. The President’s manufacturing agenda starts with his vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The President’s FY14 Budget includes a $1 billion investment at the Department of Commerce to create the NNMI, a model based on approaches that that other countries have successfully deployed.

Each institute would serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between basic research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and community colleges, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of innovation infrastructure provides a unique ‘teaching factory’ that allows for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.

The Department of Defense will lead two of the new Institutes, focused on “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation” and “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing”, and the Department of Energy will be leading one new institute on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing”. All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts. Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year.

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Federal funds will be matched by industry co-investment, support from state and local governments, and other sources. Like the pilot institute, these Institutes are expected to become financially selfsustaining, and the plan to achieve this objective will be a critical evaluation criterion in the selection process. DOD and DOE are opening the competition for the three new institutes immediately.

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