The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology on Tuesday announced plans to expand the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) with perhaps two new institutes. Seven institutes already are operating.
In a notice of intent, NIST said the Commerce Department would fund up to two institutes, providing up to $70 million per institute over five to seven years. Unlike with previous institutes, the focus of the new ones has not been pre-determined.
“Today marks a major milestone for the future of American innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a press statement. “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."
While the Commerce Department agency stated it is open to proposals "in any topic of interest to industry," it cited needs identified by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in expressing particular interest in topics related to manufacturing robotics and biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
NIST plans to issue a solicitation for up to two new institutes in January 2016.
In addition to the seven institutes already operating, two others – on smart manufacturing and revolutionary fibers and textiles – are under formation.
All of the institutes collaborate through the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office.