In March, the President announced that his Administration would launch the Pilot Institute to serve as a proof-of-concept for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) - a $1 billion project proposed in the FY2013 budget to establish 15 IMIs, each with a different technology focus. The mission is to bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies and states to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially-relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications. The Institutes will bridge the gap between basic research and product development; provide shared assets to help companies (particularly small manufacturers) access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment; and create an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills.
President Obama announced the NNMI proposal at the Rolls Royce campus in Crosspointe, Virginia, where construction is nearly complete on the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). CCAM serves as a model for the Pilot Institute. The Pilot Institute is expected to demonstrate the value of the same type of collaborative problem-solving and asset-building that could occur on a broader scale with an entire network of Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation.
The Department of Defense will soon issue a Request for Information (RFI) to initiate the process that will lead to a solicitation and conclude with an award for the Pilot Institute. The RFI will seek ideas on how the Pilot Institute will promote innovation by reducing financial and technical risk to manufacturing enterprises of all sizes through shared infrastructure and collaboration.
In the meantime, the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office will begin a series of workshops around the country to gain input from stakeholders on the formation of the NNMI. The first workshop, Designing for Impact I, will be held April 25 at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York.