LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville and its partners have been awarded $1 million to launch a new hub to cement the region’s role as a leader in next-generation manufacturing through diverse innovation and talent development.
Funding for the effort, a coalition dubbed Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change), comes via the U.S. National Science Foundation’s inaugural Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program. GAME Change received one of just 44 type-1 NSF Engines planning grants, qualifying it to compete for a type-2 award worth up to $160 million — the largest award NSF has ever offered.
UofL is proud to help lead the GAME Change coalition and work to ensure regional next-manufacturing competitiveness through research, innovation and workforce development,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “Kentucky and this region are ripe with opportunity, and through this work, we can accelerate our strong manufacturing sector’s growth as a national leader.”
As part of the coalition, UofL will leverage its manufacturing and technology expertise to provide research support and talent development to industry partners. This includes connection to the UofL-based Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership statewide resource center and labs, including the multidisciplinary Louisville Automation and Robotics Research Institute (LARRI), led by J.B. Speed School of Engineering researcher and GAME Change team member Dan Popa.
UofL also will lead the development and launch of a manufacturing-centered venture studio, offering funding, mentoring and training to help new tech-based companies spin up and out. The venture studio will draw on programming and resources offered through UofL New Ventures, part of the Office of Research and Innovation, including innovation training and funding via UofL’s eight-week LaunchIt startup bootcamp and a suite of grants focused on translating research into marketable products.
In addition to UofL, the GAME Change coalition includes research, education, economic development, industrial and manufacturing leaders of the SCC, spanning the I-65 and I-75 thoroughfares and the promising high-growth centers of Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga that outline an Appalachian region in need of greater connectivity and economic resiliency.
Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to impact regional economies positively, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.
These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging innovation hubs and potential future NSF Engines, said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation.
Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and growing their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems across our nation.”