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Keeping America on the Cutting Edge of Innovation: The NNMI’s Explosive Progress

Dept. of Commerce launches first open-topic competition for new manufacturing hubs; releases reports on the success of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation
“We’re Americans. We are inventors. We are builders… That’s who we are. That’s what we do. We invent stuff, we build it. And pretty soon, the entire world adapts it. That’s who we are. And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on doing it. We’re going to make sure the next generation of life-changing products are invented and manufactured here in the United States of America.”
- President Barack Obama, March 2012

With that powerful call to action made four years ago, President Barack Obama announced an historic initiative designed to maintain America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Speaking at an aerospace engine factory in Petersburg, Virginia in 2012, the President announced his vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation that would bring together industry, academia and government into individual institutes, with the goal of creating effective public-private hubs to solve real industry problems all across the country.

That same day, the President announced the competition for the very first manufacturing innovation institute, which would focus on securing America’s competitive edge in the rapidly growing market for additive manufacturing/3D printing. Known as America Makes, this first institute was established in Youngstown, Ohio. It began with 40 members including companies of all sizes, research universities, community colleges and nonprofits, and has since brought together the expertise of more than 160 partners.

We now have seven manufacturing institutes up-and-running, each of them started with seed money from the Department of Defense or Energy that has been matched by non-federal funds. A $500 million federal investment has led to more than $1 billion in non-federal funding for NNMI. With the support of more than 800 members -- including blue chip companies like GE, Alcoa, and Raytheon; leading universities like Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and the University of Tennessee; and numerous small businesses and non-profits -- the institutes are undertaking applied research in support of solutions to industry-relevant problems, strengthening the skills of America’s workforce, and securing U.S. leadership in emerging manufacturing technologies.

Today represents another milestone for the NNMI Program.  I am pleased to announce that using new authorities granted under the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act, the Department of Commerce is launching the first “open topic” competition, which will result in the creation of at least two new manufacturing institutes. This competition is open to any topic proposed by industry not already addressed by an NNMI institute. One institute will be awarded using FY2016 funds, and one or more will be awarded subject to the availability of additional funds.  Each institute award is in the form of a cooperative agreement that provides up to $70 million in federal support over a five-year period and requires matching funds from non-federal sources. The new additions to the rapidly growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation represent our latest progress toward the President’s goal of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes before he leaves office.

To demonstrate what the NNMI has already accomplished, today the Department of Commerce has also released the first annual report on the NNMI program, which tells the story of the NNMI’s development and highlights the activities and initial successes achieved by each of these hubs. Concurrently, we have published the first NNMI Strategic Planwhich explains the path forward for the NNMI program. 

I am excited to celebrate the success of the President’s vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, and the Department of Commerce’s role in supporting and growing the NNMI program to strengthen U.S. leadership in advanced manufacturing and prepare the nation to compete for the next generation of manufacturing jobs and investment.


The new Commerce-led manufacturing innovation institutes will join the nine existing hubs led by the Departments of Defense and Energy: 

  • Seven institutes awarded - America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (additive manufacturing and 3D printing); DMDII (integrated digital design and manufacturing); PowerAmerica (wide bandgap semiconductor-based power electronics); LIFT (lightweight metals); IACMI (advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites); AIM Photonics (integrated photonic circuit manufacturing); and NextFlex (flexible hybrid electronics).
  • Two institutes under competition – Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles and Smart Manufacturing: Advanced Sensors, Controls, Platforms, and Modeling.