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© yuriy chaban dreamstime.com Electronics Production | August 31, 2015

FlexTech Alliance receives USD 75M Department of Defense award

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded FlexTech Alliance a Cooperative Agreement to establish and manage a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) for Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE MII).
The award is for USD 75 million in federal funding over a five-year period and is being matched by more than USD 96 million in cost sharing from non-federal sources, including the City of San Jose, private companies, universities, several U.S. states, and not-for-profit organizations. FlexTech Alliance’s winning proposal results in the first of seven MIIs to be headquartered on the West Coast. The DoD’s Manufacturing Technology Program Office (ManTech) oversees the MIIs.

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, delivered the announcement at National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field. FlexTech Alliance, a research consortium and trade association, successfully proposed a San Jose-based hub and node approach to create the FHE MII, which comprises 96 companies, 11 laboratories and non-profits, 42 universities, and 14 state and regional organizations. This broad-based support underscores the market potential for flexible hybrid electronics, and reaffirms Silicon Valley’s role as an essential hub for innovation.

The Institute’s activities will benefit a wide array of markets beyond defense, including automotive, communications, consumer electronics, medical devices, health care, transportation and logistics, and agriculture. While the Institute will be headquartered in San Jose, existing nodes around the country already have in place an infrastructure ready to solve some of the known manufacturing challenges. The Institute will distribute R&D funds via competitively-bid project calls. Industry-generated technology roadmaps will drive project calls, timelines and investments.

Additionally, education and training in FHE manufacturing will be emphasized in order to expand the available workforce. A “Flex School” concept will be developed through partnerships with community colleges, teaching and research universities, trade associations, and professional societies.

Michael Ciesinski, president and CEO of FlexTech Alliance, said, “FlexTech is privileged to accept this award from the Defense Department to stand up and lead the FHE MII. Our partners collaborated on a superb proposal that links a national hub in San Jose to a network of centers of excellence throughout the U.S. We are excited by the FHE manufacturing challenge and eager to get operations underway.”

Flexible hybrid electronics, an emerging manufacturing capability, enables the integration of thin silicon electronic devices, sensing elements, communications, and power on non-traditional flexible substrates. FHE has the potential to re-shape entire industries, from the electronic wearable devices market, to medical health monitoring systems, to the ubiquitous sensing of the world around us – also known as the Internet of Things. To be successful, the Institute will need to engage aspects of the integrated circuit (IC) industry, the graphics printing industry, and the electronic assembly/packaging industry.

To complement the San Jose hub, key technology nodes will be linked and include IC thinning, system design and fabrication, integration and assembly, and FHE applications. Several regional nodes have been recognized and more are expected. Those currently aligned to the institute are centers and educational institutions throughout California, along with Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.

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