The Department of Defense (DOD) has released its anticipated solicitation to establish a Flexible Hybrid Electronics – Manufacturing Innovation Institute (FHE-MII). This will be the seventh Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) under the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) umbrella and the fifth led by DOD. The FHE-MII will “advance the state-of-the-art in the design, manufacturing hybrid integration of electronics and sensors, assembly and test automation through technology platform demonstrations of complex flexible hybrid electronics on non-traditional conformal, bendable, stretchable, and foldable substrates.”
The FHE-MII will develop flexible hybrid electronics that have direct military or security applications. Examples of potential technology platform demonstrations include: medical devices and sensors, sensors to monitor structural or vehicle performance, sensors interoperating through the internet or as sensor clusters to monitor physical positions, wearable performance or information devices, robotics, human-robotic interface devices, and light weight human portable electronic systems.
The FHE-MII will support an end-to-end ecosystem for flexible hybrid electronics in the U.S. bringing together the currently fragmented capabilities in this space. The institute will provide technology platform demonstrations “based on validated computational design tools, automated robotic component-level integration, integrated computational materials engineering (ICME), assembly, and in-situ process development and test.” In addition, the FHE-MII will facilitate training to develop a new workforce for this technology.
As for previous IMIs, the center will bring together universities, industry, federal, state, and local governments, and will have a focus on workforce development. Similar to other IMIs, the center will specifically emphasize maturing technology from the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 4 to 7, and universities will serve as key partners in the center’s research and workforce activities. Previously successful NNMI proposals have included strong ties to industry with clear commitment from a number of companies; significant political support; clear benefits to the regional economy; leveraged federal investments to amplify the NNMI investment; and a strong to commitment to workforce development and education at all levels.
As Lewis-Burke has previously reported, DOD has hosted one Proposers’ Day on February 19, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia, with a second scheduled for February 26, 2015 in Monterey, California. Questions and Answers from the two Proposers’ Days will added to the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) shortly.
Due Date: Concept papers are due by 2:00 PM Eastern Time on March 27, 2015. Invitations to submit full proposals are expected to be sent by April 28, 2015. Full proposals will then be due by 2:00 PM Eastern Time on June 15, 2015.
Total Funding and Award Size: DOD plans to award up to $75 million in funding over five years; private sector funds will match federal investment at least 1:1. Previously successful IMI applications have brought significant additional investment beyond a 1:1 match. The center is projected to be self-sustaining after five years.
Eligibility and Limitations: The solicitation seeks proposals from non-profit organizations that would enter a Cooperative Agreement to establish the IMI.
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