New Manufacturing Institute Aims to Boost Innovation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new partnership announced Thursday morning will serve as a clearinghouse to connect local companies, entrepreneurs and inventors with opportunities to collaborate with federal agencies and commercialize cutting edge technologies. 

The Advanced Manufacturing and Applied Research Innovation Institute, a newly launched limited liability company, will operate as a subsidiary of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and a sister organization to America Makes, also overseen by the national center.

The institute, or Amarii, will connect regional partners with promising project ideas to its network of contacts at potential funding sources, including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, the Office of Economic Adjustment, and regional, state and local agencies. 

Businesses and inventors are invited to submit their information and project ideas at Amarii’s online portal, which the organization’s advisory board will then evaluate for further consideration.

“We know there are programs that align to capabilities in the area. We need to know more about them so we are better equipped to get them connected” to potential federal partners, said John Wilczynski, president of Amarii and America Makes’ executive director, during the announcement at America Makes. 

The board also will look at potential partnerships between applicants.  

“If you think that your company or your technology can help move the ball down the field and make U.S. manufacturing and especially local manufacturing cutting edge, we want an opportunity to talk to you,” said Barb Ewing, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator. 

“What we’re trying to do through this organization is really amplify advanced manufacturing here and try to connect opportunities from various funding agencies throughout the federal government to manufacturers and the technologists in the area,” Wilczynski added. “We’re trying to connect the overall manufacturing community, which includes the [research and development] community, into opportunities that exist across the federal government.”

Other advisory board members attending the kickoff event included Anthony Trevena, economic development director for the Western Reserve Port Authority, and Mike Hripko, coronavirus economic recovery coordinator for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. 

“It’s a dot connector. It’s a linker,” Hripko said. “We’re here to help companies and inventors and researchers to understand the Amarii process, the Amarii value proposition and to expedite growth and expedite market potential.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said creation of the institute is “an essential resource” to allow the community to capitalize on his position as vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. 

Research and development is a key component in the new model for economic development, said Ryan, D-13 Ohio. The areas where the research is being done are the same ones that are going to be doing the manufacturing.

“The manufacturing [industry] is going to want to be near the most cutting-edge research and development so that they can always stay ahead of the curve,” he continued. “Our goal with this new entity is to make sure the investment is coming here into the Mahoning Valley, into northeast Ohio, so that we’re doing the cutting-edge research.”

Among the opportunities that exist is a focus on modernization across the U.S. Department of Defense, Wilczynski said. 

“I would doubt many people understand what the defense modernization priorities are right now in the area, so they’re not orienting their businesses in a way that they can take advantage of that,” he said. Locally, there is a focus on areas such as battery technology that are “near and dear to the Department of Energy,” he added.

“We’ve been talking about additive manufacturing for a decade. We’re talking about advanced energy and battery storage. Now we’re moving into other areas like hypersonics,” Ewing said. “There’s also Industry 4.0 applications for Department of Defense supply chain partners.”   

The goal also involves identifying the skills needed by these companies so training  can be aligned to meet those needs, including not only degreed programs but certifications and two-year programs, Ryan said.  

“There are very real opportunities that we have to begin to build and plan for,” Ewing said. 

In a news release distributed following the event, Amarii announced it is soliciting an open call on project ideas that address such topics as manufacturing, machining, process improvement, automation, supply chain enhancement, energy and energy efficiency, technology enhancement, and cost reduction. 

Submitted project ideas that support Amarii’s mission and demonstrate the ability to advance manufacturing technologies, promote job growth and retention, and strengthen economic competitiveness will receive priority consideration. 

Potential partners are invited to the complete the technology advancement topic submission form found on the Amarii website by 11:59 p.m. EST Oct. 30. 

Pictured: John Wilczynski, president of Advanced Manufacturing and Applied Research Innovation Institute and executive director of America Makes, at the announcement of the new research institute Thursday.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.