White House unveils new Silicon Valley tech institute
Washington — The Obama administration unveiled Friday a $171 million manufacturing institute in Silicon Valley aimed at boosting next-generation hybrid electronics that could help create smart bandages, self-monitoring weapons systems, safer cars and airplanes and next-generation bendable wearable devices.
The Department of Defense announced the creation of the FlexTech Alliance, a public-private manufacturing consortium based in San Jose, California, that will lead a new Manufacturing Innovation Institute — including $75 million in federal funding.
“We don’t know all the applications this new technology will make possible — that’s the remarkable thing about innovation — and it’s another reason why America, and America’s military, must get there first,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Friday.
The Department of Defense awarded the new Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics to lead a consortium of 162 companies, nonprofits, labs and universities. It includes more than $96 million in non-federal contributions.
“Flexible hybrid electronics have the power to unleash wearable devices to improve medical health monitoring and personal fitness; soft robotics to care for the elderly or assist wounded soldiers; and lightweight sensors embedded into the very trellises and fibers of roads, bridges and other structures across the globe,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
The White House said the technology could allow for embedded sensors to monitor the state of commercial automobiles and aircraft operating in harsh environments.
The winning consortium includes electronics and semiconductor companies like Applied Materials, Apple, United Technologies, Hewlett Packard, and Qualcomm with end users of the technology like Boeing Co., General Motors Co., the Cleveland Clinic, Corning and Motorola. Universities including Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, Harvard, the University of Michigan and MIT are part of the consortium.
Other companies taking part include GE, John Deere, Kellogg Co. and Lockheed Martin. Other schools joining the effort include Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center and Western Michigan University. Michigan is among 27 states taking part as are groups including SouthWest Michigan First.
A $148 million lightweight-metals manufacturing institute opened in Detroit in January.