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Manufacturing Innovation Institute Announced by President Obama
Jan 22, 2014
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The President announced new steps with the private sector to strengthen the manufacturing sector, boost advanced manufacturing, and spur growth in manufacturing jobs.

A consortium of businesses and universities, headquartered North Carolina headquartered consortium of businesses and universities, led by North Carolina State University, was chosen to lead the manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics.

The President said that by supporting the foundation for a strong wide bandgap semiconductor manufacturing base, the United States can lead in some of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets from consumer appliances and industrial-scale equipment to telecommunications and clean energy technologies – creating the well-paying jobs that support a growing middle class.

The new manufacturing innovation institute in North Carolina is focused on enabling the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. These improvements will make power electronic devices like motors, consumer electronics, and devices that support the power grid faster, smaller, and more efficient.

The winning team, led by North Carolina State University, brings together a consortium of leading companies that included some of the world’s leading wide band gap semiconductor manufacturers, leading materials providers, and critical end-users like John Deere and Delphi with universities involved in technology development and research. The Department of Energy is awarding $70 million over five years, matched by at least $70 million in non-federal commitments by the winning team of businesses and universities, along with the state of North Carolina.

At the announcement of the institute President Obama noted that U.S. manufacturing has added 568,000 jobs in the past four years, including 80,000 in the past five months. This reversed a decade-long period of job losses in the manufacturing sector.

In last year’s State of the Union address, the President proposed three new manufacturing institutes that the Administration can create using existing resources. The Manufacturing Innovation Institute announced last week is the first of these institutes.

A competition was launched in May 2013 for the 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. The program builds on the success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, OH.

The next two institutes are still in the selection process and will be awarded in the coming weeks. These will be led by the Department of Defense and will focus on Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation, and Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing.

Each institute is designed to serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S.

This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity 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.

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