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The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it has issued a Notice of Intent to fund up to two institutes as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). For its first institutes, the Commerce Department will provide up to a total of $70 million per institute over five to seven years. Commerce funding must be matched by private and other non-federal sources. The institutes are expected to become self-sustainable within the time period of the award. 

“Today marks a major milestone for the future of American innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The collaborative, cutting-edge technologies being designed, developed and commercialized at our NNMI institutes are essential to America’s long-term economic growth, competitiveness and job creation. Our new institutes will build on the success of the existing seven, and for the first time, the topic areas have not been chosen in advance but will depend on industry interests and input. Together, our growing network of institutes will ensure America remains on the leading edge of the 21st century economy.” 

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“Each institute serves as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to reinforce the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May. “NIST is pleased to support this national effort to build critical capacity in important technology areas, in support of U.S. manufacturing.”

This will be the first NNMI solicitation in which the funding agency has not predetermined an institute’s area of focus. NIST is open to receiving proposals in any topic of interest to industry, particularly those relevant to manufacturing robotics and biopharmaceutical manufacturing. These two subject areas were identified by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Advanced Manufacturing Partnership as technology areas critical to supporting national needs.

A collaborative manufacturing robotics institute would focus on developing advanced robotic systems that can safely operate in collaboration with humans or other robots, be tasked and re-tasked easily, and be integrated into the rest of an enterprise seamlessly and quickly.

A biopharmaceutical manufacturing institute would center on “biologic” therapies that are manufactured using living cells instead of conventional chemistry. The institute would aim to stimulate innovation in manufacturing that will enable new, more cost effective treatment of disease and solidify the domestic competitiveness of the U.S. biopharma industry.

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