The Obama Administration will make an announcement later today that will establish a new flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing innovation hub in Silicon Valley. More than $171 million will be invested into this “
Above: 120530-D-NI589-211 Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter delivers remarks concerning budget priorities for 21st century defense at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., on May 30, 2012. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett. (Released)
What teams will be working on here in Silicon Valley involves researching hybrid flexible electronics manufacturing. This involves dealing with “high performance packaging and printing techniques, to integrate multiple silicon circuits, and sensors, on a single stretchable or wearable platform.”
The goal isn’t necessarily to create the next Nike Fuelband or Jawbone Up. However, the government wants to build a better wearable device that can help monitor vital signs and physical states to improve quality of life for all people.
Other potential use cases include for robotics, embedding sensors into commercial automobiles and aircrafts to better protect against harsh environments, and much more.
The Obama Administration says this manufacturing innovation institute will “work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing processes for flexible hybrid electronics.” To accomplish this, there are four objectives being targeted:
- Develop an end-to-end stretchable electronics “ecosystem” in the U.S. giving teams access to the necessary tools, facilities, and workforce.
- Create a universal manufacturing platform that will make it easier to scale the technologies across markets to help drive cost, performance, and other requirements.
- Gather together the best teams from throughout the technology industry including those in manufacturing, silicon and other material suppliers, developers, government, and academic advisors.
- Pair together tech companies with end users of flexible platforms and top research universities.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will be in Silicon Valley today to speak at a press conference announcing the news. This initiative comes under the Department of Defense’s (DoD) purview since it will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research laboratory and the federal agency is also chipping in $75 million in funding over five years. More than $90 million in funding will also be provided from the private sector, bringing the grand total to more than $171 million.
In an April 2015 speech at Stanford University, Secretary Carter made reference to the long history of partnerships between the public and private sector, especially as it relates to securing the U.S.’s future. “Through successes and strains, our ties have broadly endured,” he said. “…but I believe we must renew the bonds of trust and rebuild the bridge between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley.”
He continued on by saying that globalization and commercialization has led to an increase in competition. And while Secretary Carter is focusing on defending the country, he’s also looking at it from a non-militaristic standpoint: the competition for talent.
Amid all of this concern, the Obama Administration has enacted a plan that it thinks will bring the brightest minds from across the country to work on a series of programs aimed at strengthening the country.
It’s perhaps not surprising to see President Obama getting behind technology. He has brought together a pretty technologically savvy administration, led by Chief Technology Officer (and former Google executive) Megan Smith. Earlier this month, The White House also held its first-ever demo day.
This isn’t the first time though that the Pentagon has looked to Silicon Valley. While the manufacturing innovation hub will be headquartered in San Jose, Calif. in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s going to be part of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit — Experimental (DIUx). It’s this particular unit that set up a full-time outreach office in July 2015 with an budget of $1.75 million this year. This number is expected to grow to $5 million from 2016 to 2019.
According to reports, the DIUx’s mission is “to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones; scout for breakthrough and emerging technologies; and function as a local interface node for the Department [of Defense].”
Secretary Carter will hold a press conference later today to speak more about this economic initiative.
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