Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, MEDC highlight automotive, talent initiatives at NAIAS

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New composites innovation center, cross-industry design council to be established in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of automotive at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, today detailed two major initiatives that will bolster Michigan’s preeminent role as a global automotive leader. The announcements took place at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The first initiative is the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) that will be established in Detroit through a $70 million U. S. Department of Energy grant. The second, the Michigan Design Council, is a cross-industry design coalition that will focus on strengthening the design talent base in Michigan. 

Together, these initiatives address the ongoing need for manufacturing innovation and capitalize on Michigan’s leadership in engineering and design talent.

“With our strong manufacturing base and strength in research and development with auto materials, we are a natural fit for the IACMI grant and its implications on the future of lightweight materials,” Calley said. “The Michigan Design Council will focus on finding ways to attract and retain design talent, a vital component of our overall economic development strategy.”

The new IACMI facility, announced last Friday by President Obama, will focus on the development of advanced fiber-enforced polymer composites that will yield automotive materials that are lighter and stronger than steel. 

IACMI, based in a lab in Oakridge, Tennessee, will be using additional lab space in Detroit. IACMI’s technology development and demonstration programs will be driven by major industry participation with a focus on reducing technical risk and developing a robust supply chain to support a growing advanced composites industry.

The center will allow the auto industry to test and develop the equipment needed to process new materials for vehicles. While larger auto manufacturers are exploring some of these material technologies on their own, the grant will help smaller companies that need access to the technology or a place to test innovative ideas.

Last year the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Detroit received a separate grant from the Department of Defense. ALMMII is a public-private partnership developing and deploying advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training programs to prepare the workforce. ALMMII is one of the founding institutes in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a federal initiative to create regional hubs to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. 

The institute will receive $70 million in federal funding over five years, matched by another $78 million from consortium partners. This funding, along with the IACMI grant, makes Michigan a unique location where multi-materials for vehicles will be collaborated in the same area.

The Michigan Design Council, a new organization for cross-industry design aimed at strengthening the design talent base in Michigan, was also announced today.

A coalition of private, state and local partners, the Michigan Design Council is led by industrial design company Sundberg-Ferar. The goal of the Michigan Design Council is to establish Michigan as the premier destination for individuals in the industrial design and related design professions, attract and retain design professionals, and have a positive economic impact for the state and its industries.

The council will work to grow Michigan pool of design professionals, work with Michigan business to use design more effectively, host events such as design competitions aimed at attracting creative talent, create design sharing space, and educate residents and businesses on the importance of a design community.

Calley added that the industry wanting to create the Michigan Design Council is a welcome partnership in state's focus on talent development.

“While we are proud of the fact that we make things in Michigan, our depth goes far beyond that. We design and make things – cars, furniture, appliances, clothes – items that affect everyone's life each and every day,” Calley said. “The Michigan Design Council will help Michigan address the talent development focus of its economic development strategy and become the national leader in developing a talented workforce.”

The Council will hold its first design competition, Design Michigan Week, in 2016. More details will be announced in the coming months.

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy. 

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

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