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Pilot Projects Will Bring MEP Small-Business Expertise to Manufacturing USA Institutes

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded approximately $5 million to pilot several projects that will embed staff from Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers at five institutes within the Manufacturing USA (f/k/a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation or NNMI) network.

The projects will place MEP center staff in residence at several of the Manufacturing USA institutes to develop ways to cultivate enduring collaborations among small U.S. manufacturers, the institutes and MEP centers for the benefit of all these entities.

Specifically, the pilot projects will:

  • Develop innovate approaches for transferring technology from the institutes to small U.S. manufacturers;
  • Create approaches for engaging small manufacturers in the work of the institutes through hands-on assistance and services;
  • Develop and test business models by which MEP centers and institutes may effectively serve the needs of small U.S. manufacturers in the technology areas of the institutes, and facilitate knowledge and best practice sharing between the institutes and MEP centers; and
  • Cultivate an enhanced nationwide network of partnerships among the institutes and MEP centers.

Each center will receive about $1 million to conduct projects that will run from October 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2018. These pilot projects will demonstrate ways to fully leverage the assets and resources of the national MEP program to provide assistance to small U.S. manufacturers in technology areas that are the focus of the Manufacturing USA institutes. The projects will seek to accelerate transition of the latest and most compelling technological innovations into manufactured goods. 

The awards will go to the following MEP centers:

California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (Torrance)
Partnering with: NextFlex, the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (Peoria)
Partnering with: The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII)

New York State Department of Economic Development (New York MEP, Albany)
Partnering with: The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics)

North Carolina State University (North Carolina MEP, Raleigh)
Partnering with: Power America

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (Tennessee MEP, Knoxville)
Partnering with: The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)

The MEP network includes centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, which were invited to submit applications for this funding opportunity. 

For every dollar of federal investment, MEP clients generate nearly $17 in new sales, which translates into $2.3 billion in new sales annually. And for every $1,900 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one U.S. manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with more than 86,000 manufacturers, leading to $96.4 billion in sales and $15.7 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create nearly 800,000 jobs.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Released September 13, 2016, Updated September 14, 2016