AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University will be establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Network with a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2013 University Center Economic Development Program Competition. The grant was awarded to the ISU Extension and Outreach Center for Industrial Research and Service.
“The EDA University Center Program is an integral component of Iowa State University’s effort to drive innovation-based economic development and job creation in Iowa,” said CIRAS Director Ron Cox.
“The EDA-ISU partnership will help match university experts with advanced manufacturing companies to provide the innovation and technology solutions Iowa industry needs to remain competitive in a global economy,” Cox said.
The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Network will help address gaps in Iowa’s economic ecosystem, said Mike O’Donnell, EDA program director with CIRAS. CIRAS will work with one sector in advanced manufacturing during each of the program’s five years. For each industry, CIRAS will perform a SWOT analysis — examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats the industry faces. CIRAS experts will bring together university faculty, industry and Iowa leaders, applying a set of research-based tools to help this diverse group create innovative ideas for their industry. Teams formed during the summit will be coached to incubate those ideas and create innovative solutions to improve the industry or grow their business.
The term “advanced manufacturing” means looking at new ways of manufacturing existing products as well as new products that may emerge from advanced technologies. It can involve innovative use of information, automation and networking, as well as cutting edge materials and emerging capabilities.
Iowa State is one of 19 colleges and universities in 10 states receiving new EDA funding to run five-year programs that will leverage university assets to promote American innovation and strengthen regional economies. The EDA grants total $2.5 million.
This new funding at Iowa State will help generate and retain jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth in Iowa, O’Donnell said. The Iowa EDA University Center has operated within CIRAS since the program began at Iowa State in 1980.
EDA-funded university centers provide business solutions and technical assistance to public- and private-sector organizations, and conduct other activities with the goal of enhancing regional economic development. They offer a full range of services tailored to each region’s needs and the institution’s strengths. University center business solutions include basic and applied research, market research, feasibility studies, product development, strategic and financial planning, seminars and training, and management consultations. These services enhance business productivity, streamline operations, increase quality and cut costs.
CIRAS is part of the College of Engineering and Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. This year CIRAS is celebrating its 50th anniversary of partnering with Iowa companies and communities to help them prosper and grow, Cox noted.
“Last year companies that worked with CIRAS reported $414 million in impact — new investments, higher sales and lower costs. Healthy communities through business prosperity: that’s the CIRAS vision for Iowa,” Cox said.