The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today awarded 19 advanced manufacturing technology planning grants totaling $9 million to new or existing industry-driven consortia to develop technology roadmaps aimed at strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation performance across industries.
The grants, awarded to universities and other nonprofit organizations, are the first conferred by NIST's new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program. They range from $378,900 to $540,000 for a period of up to two years.
The funded projects will identify and rank research and development goals, define workforce needs, and initiate other steps toward speeding technology development and transfer and improving manufacturing capabilities. Project collaborations span a wide variety of industries and technologies, from flexible-electronics manufacturing to biomanufacturing and from pulp-and-paper manufacturing to forming and joining technologies.
"The AMTech awards provide incentives for partnerships to tackle the important jobs of planning, setting strategic manufacturing technology goals, and developing a shared vision of how to work collaboratively to get there," said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "These are essential first steps toward building the research infrastructure necessary to sustain a healthy, innovative advanced manufacturing sector—one that invents, demonstrates, prototypes and produces here, in the U.S."
Technology roadmapping is a key component of all funded projects. Each consortium will engage manufacturers of all sizes, university researchers, trade associations and other stakeholders in an interactive process to identify and prioritize research projects that reduce shared barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States.
In conjunction with developing technology roadmaps, the projects will undertake related tasks such as defining challenges specific to building robust domestic supply chains and establishing skill-set requirements for an advanced manufacturing workforce.
Established in 2013, the AMTech program aims to catalyze partnerships between U.S. industry, academia, and government that will support efforts to meet the long-term research needs of U.S. industry. A specific objective is to enable new—or to strengthen existing—industry-led technology consortia for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing research projects that reduce barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing.
On July 24, 2013, the program announced its inaugural competition for planning grants. It received 82 applications seeking a total of $37.4 million in funding. Of the 19 consortia that received grants, 11 are new efforts that will be launched with AMTech funding. Applications for these projects included letters of commitment from companies and other prospective partners.