The award of a U.S. Department of Defense grant as part of a planned $320 million Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute was announced today by President Obama. The institute is part of Obama’s initiative to establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which calls for a network of independent, public-private entities performing advanced manufacturing research. UI Labs, a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative affiliated with the University of Illinois, will oversee the new DMDI operation.
The DMDI Institute will be headquartered in Chicago with a network of manufacturing partner and research sites across the U.S. – including one at UofL. The institute’s goal will be to increase the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector of America’s economy by developing software, data management tools and innovative, networked production processes that reduce costs and improve efficiencies for both large companies and small/medium sized manufacturers.
Selection as a DMDI Institute site places UofL on the cutting edge of the digital manufacturing movement, according to university officials. It is expected to bolster the university’s efforts to build an applied science and engineering park on a 39 acre site south of the Belknap Campus, give the state’s manufacturers access to technologies and tools they need to be competitive in a changing global marketplace, provide co-op and research opportunities for students, and ultimately, create new jobs.
It also is expected to raise UofL’s stature as an institution where groundbreaking research is performed.
The funding base for the initiative includes a $70 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. That grant will be leveraged by investments and support commitments of $250 million from industry, academia, government and community partners.
“The University of Louisville is focused on providing the skills and technology to boost economic opportunities for Kentuckians,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “This federal award will help us build on our competitive advantage in manufacturing, provide more jobs for Kentuckians and establish UofL as a leader in advanced manufacturing, design and innovation.”
As it participated in the extremely competitive DMDI bidding process, UofL and the rest of the proposal team were aided by support from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Letters of recommendation also were submitted to the Department of Defense by U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth, Harold “Hal” Rogers and Andy Barr.