As part of the Department of Defense effort to partner with the private sector and academia to ensure the United States continues to lead in the new frontiers of manufacturing, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will announce today that the Obama administration will award a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics to a consortium of 162 companies, universities, and non-profits led by the FlexTech Alliance.
The announcement follows a highly competitive nationwide bid process for the seventh of nine such manufacturing institutes launched by the administration, and the fifth of six manufacturing institutes led by the Department of Defense. Part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation announced by President Obama in 2012, this newest institute will bring the best minds from government, industry and academia together to advance U.S. leadership in manufacturing flexible hybrid electronics. The emerging flexible hybrid electronics sector promises to revolutionize the electronics industry, and the Silicon Valley-based FlexTech Alliance consortium, backed by companies as diverse as Apple and Lockheed Martin and major research universities including Stanford and MIT, represents the next chapter in the long-standing public-private partnerships between the Pentagon and tech community.
A truly collaborative consortium, the FlexTech team includes more than 160 companies, nonprofits, independent research organizations and universities. The cooperative agreement will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research laboratory (AFRL) and will receive $75 million in DoD funding over five years matched with more than $90 million from industry, academia, and local governments. In total, the institute will receive $171 million to invest in strengthening U.S. manufacturing.
Flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing describes the innovative production of electronics and sensors packaging through new techniques in electronic device handling and high precision printing on flexible, stretchable substrates. The potential array of products range from wearable devices to improved medical health monitoring technologies, and will certainly increase the variety and capability of sensors that already interconnect the world. The technologies promise dual use applications in both the consumer economy and the development of military solutions for the warfighter.
After a decade of decline in the 2000s, when 40 percent of all large factories closed their doors, American manufacturing is adding jobs at its fastest rate in decades, with nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs created since February 2010. Today’s announcement represents the kind of investment needed to build on this progress, broadening the foundation for American manufacturing capability and accelerating growth for years to come.
Immediately following Secretary Carter’s announcement of the FlexTech Alliance award, he will hold the first ever roundtable of Silicon Valley leaders at Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental (DIUx). Secretary Carter announced his plans to launch this outpost at Moffett Federal Airfield for the department to work with a variety of corporations and entrepreneurs at a speech at Stanford University in April 2015. The innovative culture of Silicon Valley, in collaboration with these Department of Defense initiatives and the department’s world-class laboratories, will accelerate military technology development cycles and focus on critical Department of Defense needs while also creating new commercial opportunities.