Public, Private Funding for University-Led Manufacturing Innovation Partnerships
To revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base, states and private organizations are turning their attention to support university-led, manufacturing Research and Development (R&D) partnerships that reduce the cost of manufacturing domestically and equip U.S. manufacturers with cutting-edge technologies. Responsive to the needs of industry, these partnerships are intended to not only spur innovation, but also support economic prosperity in regions across the country. The Walmart Foundation and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced new funding for university-led manufacturing partnerships. In Arizona, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) recently ended its 2014 application period for a program that provides small grants to fund university-industry partnerships that develop innovative manufacturing-related, tools and technologies for use aerospace and defense manufacturing industries.
In partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Walmart Foundation announced its first round of grant recipients for the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund — a five-year, $10 million grant program to support manufacturing innovation and economic prosperity in regions across the country. In this round of funding, Walmart will commit $4 million to support university-led, manufacturing-related R&D projects with the specific goals of reducing the costs of textiles manufacturing and advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the United States. Awardees include:
- Georgia Tech Research Corporation for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control.
- Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling as an alternative to current metal-shaping practices.
- North Carolina State University College of Textiles to address challenges to the manufacturing of furniture cushions in the U.S. by implementing new technologies in both fabric printing and cut-and-sew automation.
- Oregon State University to develop two novel alternative mold fabricating approaches, and evaluate for functionality, precision and cost reduction potential.
- Texas Tech University to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes.
- University of Texas at Arlington to develop a novel manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor sub-systems and assemble the motor components.
- University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an innovative approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce.
The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund is part of a broader commitment launched by Walmart in 2013 to support U.S. manufacturing. Read the press release.
Gov. Corbett announced $3 million in funding to support additive manufacturing R&D partnerships between researchers at two universities and state manufacturers. The Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania program (RAMP) will operate as a competitive funding program that will provide small grants to faculty-led teams at both Carnegie Mellon University and Lehigh University to engage in specific, short-term innovation projects.
At least 10 projects will be supported under the RAMP program including the fabrication of medical instrumentation for knee and hip replacement and complex additive processing parameters with various materials, according to the press release. RAMP was created to spur manufacturing innovation at the research universities, increase the global competiveness of state manufactures, and create economic prosperity across the state. It also is intended to help retain highly skilled workers. Read the release.
The ACA recently ended its 2014 application period for the Advanced Manufacturing Grant Competition. Awards are made to fund projects that develop innovative manufacturing-related, tools and technologies that reduce energy consumption for older generation machine tools and foster working relationships between industry small- to medium-sized manufacturers in central Arizona and third-party solution providers including the state’s research universities. Targeted at support innovation in the aerospace and defense industries, ACA intends to commit $300,000 in 2014 to support multiple grants of up to $75,000 each – awards will be announced later in the year. R&D Projects funded in 2013 included a machine tool coolant & energy consumption monitoring technology; a simulation-based optimization of plant equipment starting, stopping & idle time analysis tool; and, an integrated lean and green kaizen process.