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NIST’s New Mfg Innovation Institute Competition is Open-Topic

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson, Senior Editor


NIST wants to fund the creation of two more manufacturing institutes to join the nine already underway as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). What is different is that the competition is open-topic: ‘Any area of US advanced manufacturing national need that has the potential to have a transformative effect on the growth of US manufacturing’ will be considered, according to NIST.


The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD) is looking to fund the creation of two more manufacturing institutes to join the nine already underway as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). A new competition was announced by NIST on February 19. The stated goal of the Obama administration has been to launch a total of 15 institutes by the end of the President’s term of office in January, 2017.

What is different about the NIST competition is that this solicitation is open-topic: In past years, the competitions were about finding the best location for an NNMI with a stated agenda—lightweighting research (LIFT; Detroit), or additive manufacturing development (America Makes; Youngstown, OH), to name two examples. This time around, applicants may make the case for new institutes that address “any area of US advanced manufacturing national need that has the potential to have a transformative effect on the growth of US manufacturing,” and that isn’t already being covered at an existing NNMI institute or government-sponsored competition.

Each institute award is in the form of a cooperative agreement that provides up to $70 million in federal support over a five-year period and requires matching funds from non-federal sources. The new competition will award one institute using fiscal year 2016 funds and one or more using fiscal year 2017 funds.

The solicitation is open to US-owned entities organized and operated in the United States and its territories. The process begins with submission of a pre-application, due April 20, 2016. Following review, selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. NIST will host an educational NNMI “proposers’ day” on March 8, 2016, at the NIST Gaithersburg campus, which will also be webcast.

Like the other manufacturing innovation institutes that are part of the national network, the NIST institutes will be private-public partnerships that foster collaboration among industry, academia, nonprofits and government agencies. Through the institutes, these stakeholders work to accelerate US innovation and to increase US competitiveness by investing in industrially relevant, cross-cutting advanced manufacturing products and processes.

“These new institutes will help to improve the competitiveness of US manufacturing and to fill the gap between basic research and commercialization,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May in a statement. “They are uniquely positioned to accelerate non-federal investment in advanced manufacturing production capacity in the US and to enable the commercial application of new technologies.”

The institutes serve as regional hubs for advanced manufacturing and provide shared facilities to all members. The goal is to help industry reduce the risks and costs of production scale-up and commercialization so that companies of all sizes can adopt new technologies, accelerate technology transfer to the marketplace and facilitate innovation across supply chains. Institutes also serve as workforce development resources, working in partnership with local high schools, community colleges and universities.

Because of the open-ended nature of this new competition, manufacturers may find not only the eventual winners but also the range of submission topics to be of interest. All of Advanced Manufacturing Media’s ongoing coverage of the growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation may be found here.


Published Date : 2/24/2016

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