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Midwest States Launch Public-Private R&D Centers in Key Manufacturing Industries

August 11, 2016

Over the last few weeks, Indiana and Michigan have announced the launch of manufacturing-focused innovation centers to help transform manufacturing sectors that are long-standing drivers of economic prosperity in their respective state into 21st century global hubs for manufacturing innovation. In partnership with key local industry partners, these centers are intended to help spur job creation while reimaging the role of manufacturing in their state through innovation. Purdue University in Indiana and its public/private-sector partners want to capitalize on the strength of the state’s composites manufacturing sector by launching a new manufacturing innovation institute focused on the advanced manufacturing of composite materials. In Michigan, automakers have partnered with the state and other groups to support the future of transportation through two automotive-focused innovation centers.

Located at the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, Purdue University opened the 62,000-square-foot, $50 million Indiana Manufacturing Institute on July 27, which will house several manufacturing-focused labs to support Purdue researchers and graduate students as they conduct R&D in areas related to composite materials and advanced manufacturing including the:

  • Center for Composites Manufacturing and Simulation – to support R&D efforts on composite materials to increase energy efficiency for the vehicle production, wind, aerospace and other industries;
  • Product Lifecycle Management Center – to fund the  study, training and implementation of product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies and systems; and,
  • Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC) – a R&D facility to help Indiana-based companies or operations adopt a new digital technology.

The three centers will occupy 30,000 square feet with the remaining 32,000 square feet available for public or private entities interested in collaborating on composite materials research with Purdue University.

The Center for Composites Manufacturing and Simulation is part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) – a U.S. Department of Energy-supported Manufacturing Innovation Institute led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. In addition to an $11 million commitment by Purdue University, nearly 20 private-sector, advanced manufacturing partners committed funding and/or other support for the new Indiana-based manufacturing hub. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will commit up to $35 million in research equipment and materials in the institute over the next five years.

On July 26, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced the Michigan Strategic Fund will commit $17 million for the American Center for Mobility (ACM) that will provide funding to finalize the acquisition of land at the Willow Run Manufacturing Complex in Ypsilanti, assist with operations, and facilitate the design and construction of phase one of a center for automated vehicles. In an attempt to maintain the state’s role as the world-leader in transportation and manufacturing, the public-private, purpose-built facility will focus on testing, verification, and self-certification of connected and automated vehicles and other mobility technologies. In addition to the state’s automakers, ACM partners include the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Economic Development Corp., the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK. 

Additionally only August 10, Gill Pratt – CEO of the Toyota Research Institute announced that University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center will receive $22 million over the next four years from the Toyota Research Institute to advance R&D on artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous driving, according to the Detroit Free Press. Combined with the state’s investment in the ACM, this investment marks another step toward making Michigan, specifically southeast Michigan, a hub for advanced manufacturing and R&D in the area of mobility, robotics, and transportation.

The $22 million will research “what robots can sense and understand about the world” with a specific focus on autonomous mobility, safety and home robotics. The intent of this research is for it to be applied to both the manufacturing and automation of Toyota vehicles and other products. In addition to Toyota, the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center has partnered with over 40 organizations including the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 

Indiana, Massachusettsmanufacturing, higher ed