The President announced new steps with the private sector to strengthen the manufacturing sector, boost advanced manufacturing, and attract the good paying jobs that a growing middle class requires. The President also announced the selection of a North Carolina headquartered consortium of businesses and universities, led by North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics.
President Obama has declared 2014 a year of action, and while he will continue to work with Congress on new measures to create jobs and grow the economy, he will also use his executive authority to get things done. After shedding jobs for a decade, our manufacturers have added 568,000 over the past nearly four years, including 80,000 over the past five months. Manufacturing production has grown since the end of the recession at its fastest pace in over a decade. The President is committed to building on that progress.
In last year’s State of the Union address, the President proposed a series of three new manufacturing institutes that the Administration can create using existing resources - this is the first of those institutes. In May, President Obama launched a competition for these three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies – Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, building off the success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio. The additional two institutes led by the Department of Defense – focused on Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation and Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing – are still in the selection process and will be awarded in the coming weeks.
Each institute is designed to serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.
The new manufacturing innovation institute announced today in North Carolina is focused on enabling the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. These improvements will make power electronic devices like motors, consumer electronics, and devices that support our power grid faster, smaller, and more efficient. The winning team, led by North Carolina State University, brings together a consortium of leading companies that included some of the world’s leading wide band gap semiconductor manufacturers, leading materials providers, and critical end-users like John Deere and Delphi with universities on the cutting edge of technology development and research, all in a vibrant and entrepreneurial region that can serve as the foundation for ongoing U.S leadership in this important technology. The Department of Energy is awarding $70 million over five years, matched by at least $70 million in non-federal commitments by the winning team of businesses and universities, along with the state of North Carolina.
The announcement is another step forward toward fulfilling the President’s vision for a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes, which will also require legislation from Congress. In July 2013, Senators Brown (D-OH) and Blunt (R-MO) and Congressmen Reed (R-NY) and Kennedy (D-MA) co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in both the Senate and House that would create a network for manufacturing innovation led by the Department of Commerce consistent with the President’s vision, helping the United States to take advantage of this unique opportunity to accelerate growth and innovation in domestic production and create the foundation for well-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class. The President will continue to support this bipartisan legislation and will work with Congress to get it passed, and will continue to make progress where he can through existing authority to boost these partnerships that are key to supporting high-quality manufacturing jobs.