5/09/2013 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed is urging Rhode Island’s business community, research universities, and state and local officials to work together to compete to bring a new “Manufacturing Innovation Institute” to Rhode Island. 

At a speech in Texas later today, President Obama will announce an executive order launching a nationwide competition to create three new “Manufacturing Innovation Institutes” with a federal commitment of $200 million that is already in the budget.  The first three institutes will focus on: lightweight and modern metals manufacturing; digital manufacturing; and manufacturing for next generation power electronics.  The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy will be the lead agencies in charge of the competition. 

“Rhode Island is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and should be a part of the new revolution in advanced manufacturing that is taking place today.  We are home to some of the world’s greatest minds in research and design and our state would make an ideal site for one of these new, advanced manufacturing centers.  Economic growth is essential for our state’s middle-class, and I am hopeful that the state, along with our universities and local businesses, can partner to form an effective coalition where industry, academia, and government collaborate on advanced manufacturing,” said Reed.

Following up on his State of the Union address, President Obama today outlined a plan to make America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing so that our nation can continue to build things the rest of the world buys.  The three new institutes being launched in this competition will be similar to one in Youngstown, Ohio, that is researching the use of 3-D printing in manufacturing – in which the government, businesses and colleges, and the manufacturing and research communities work together to develop manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs.  The Youngstown facility, known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), is headquartered in a former warehouse, and will receive up to $45 million in federal funding, mostly from the U.S. Department of Defense, and $40 million from a coalition of 60 manufacturers, colleges, and non-profit groups.

“Manufacturing is making a comeback and these new “Manufacturing Innovation Institutes” could help more companies, particularly small manufacturers, capitalize on cutting edge technologies.  This competition is an opportunity for the state to leverage its assets to create new jobs now and in the future.  Expanding our innovative manufacturing base will strengthen our economy and accelerate the next generation of manufacturing methods,” said Reed.

Senator Reed is working with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on legislation that would build on President Obama’s proposal and create a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation.  Specifically, their bill would establish public-private Institutes that leverage investments to bridge the gap between basic research and product development, provide shared assets to help companies—particularly small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises—access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, and create an environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills.  Each Institute would serve as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to support regional manufacturing and ensuring that our manufacturing sector is a key pillar in an economy that is built to last.  This model has been successfully deployed in other countries and would address a gap in the U.S. manufacturing innovation infrastructure.

For the first round of the competition, the Defense Department will lead two of the new Institutes focused on “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing” and “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation.”  The U.S. 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 Defense and Energy, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts.  Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year.  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 self-sustaining, 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.  For more information: