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Commerce Department Awards $54 Million in American Rescue Act Grants to Increase Access to Advanced Manufacturing Opportunities

Vials labeled "COVID-19 Vaccine" are being filled on a machine.
Credit: solarseven/Shutterstock

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded nearly $54 million in grants for 13 high-impact projects for research, development and testbeds for pandemic response. The funding, which was provided by the American Rescue Act, will support projects at eight manufacturing innovation institutes in the Manufacturing USA® network, working with more 80 partners including leading research universities, nonprofits, and small and large manufacturers. 

“Rebuilding our manufacturing economy is an essential component to strengthening our communities and creating opportunity for all Americans,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “The breadth and variety of these awards shows that manufacturing can be an economic driver in every community. From creating an advanced manufacturing testbed in Appalachia, to building clean, reliable power in Native American communities, these grants are essential to creating manufacturing jobs and skills in every corner of America.”

Each institute in the Manufacturing USA® network is a public-private partnership focused on an advanced manufacturing specialty such as additive manufacturing, advanced chip manufacturing or robotics. The institutes collaborate with academic and private sector manufacturing organizations on applied research and development projects and advanced manufacturing skills training. 

The awardees will use advanced manufacturing technologies to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment; create new, sustainable domestic supply chains; improve resilience in existing supply chains; produce novel COVID-19 tests; provide shared-access equipment and facilities; produce health alert systems; and train and develop the next-generation manufacturing workforce. 

The lead recipients and their projects are:

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Inc. (AFFOA), Cambridge, Massachusetts — $11,116,420
To enable manufacturing automation and supply chain diversification, and to address the environmental impact of PPE; working with more than 12 partner organizations.

PowerAmerica (North Carolina State University), Raleigh, North Carolina — $4,982,299
To build pandemic resilience in remote, difficult to reach, underserved Native American communities through clean-energy-powered services; working with seven partner organizations.

AIM Photonics (SUNY Polytechnic Institute Research Foundation), Albany, New York — $4,974,630
To produce the first-ever inexpensive, disposable point-of-care sensors using integrated photonics to test for coronavirus and emerging viruses, increasing access without need for expensive equipment and specialized expertise that limits use in doctor’s offices, rural clinics and resource-limited environments; working with eight partner organizations.

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — $4,933,561
To create the Robotics and Automation Decision Framework for Agility and Resilience (RADAR) that will allow small and medium-sized manufacturers to systematically evaluate the cost-to-benefit ratio of integrating robotics and automation into manufacturing processes to support coronavirus response; working with six partner organizations.

Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), St. Paul, Minnesota — $4,729,690
To create a domestic supply chain for vaccine manufacturing that will remove supply chain bottlenecks in manufacturing vaccine components (currently foreign-sourced) using bioindustrial processing to develop and demonstrate pilot-scale manufacturing from sustainable, domestic plant sources and train workers in the same; working with three partner organizations.

RAPID Institute (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), New York, New York — $4,638,881
To develop a testbed for domestic manufacturing of critical pharmaceutical ingredients in the underserved Appalachian region; working with two partner organizations. 

Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), St. Paul, Minnesota — $4,075,202
To advance innovative, proof-of-concept biomanufacturing platforms and technologies for rapid, cost-effective, distributed domestic manufacturing of antigens to use in testing and medical treatments for coronavirus, as well as a mechanism to train workers on these production approaches; working with seven other organizations.

MxD (Manufacturing x Digital), Chicago, Illinois — $3,880,343
To create the Rx Product Marketplace Orchestrator, an online marketplace for consumers and manufacturers of emergency health and medical goods that ensures rapid response across the supply chain to meet demand for particular items (e.g., respirators, ventilators, face masks); working with nine partner organizations.

RAPID Institute (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), New York, New York — $3,773,536
To scale continuous manufacturing and modular production of high-quality, low-cost advanced respirators and biosensors to limit exposure to and transmission of coronavirus; working with four partner organizations.

America Makes (National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining), Youngstown, Ohio — $3,021,989
To use additive manufacturing to create a prototype of N95-level nonwoven filter materials for respiratory PPE that meets National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements and reduces dependence on foreign imports, and partner with a local community college and small and medium-sized manufacturers to train workers on this type of advanced manufacturing application; working with six partner organizations.

MxD (Manufacturing x Digital), Chicago, Illinois — $2,369,302
To create a privacy-protecting local health alert system to conduct contact tracing and data analysis using blockchain technology, mapping linkages between disease detection and resulting supply chain demand estimates — translating real time public health indicators into future demand signals to develop predictive capabilities for supply chain needs; working with seven partner organizations.

RAPID Institute (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), New York, New York — $1,109,520
To develop and deploy virtual technician and operator training for advanced processes in the biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical and specialty chemical industries; working with three partner organizations.

AIM Photonics (SUNY Polytechnic Institute Research Foundation), Albany, New York — $299,149
To develop a proof of concept for disposable, lab-on-a-chip solution to COVID-19 testing using silicon photonics that does not need costly reagents or complex, large, power-consuming hardware, while offering low temperature sensitivity; working with three other organizations.

Released February 28, 2022, Updated March 1, 2022