Competition to be Held for Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute

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Publication date: 
16 October 2014

The Air Force Research Laboratory has announced a Notice of Intent to release a Broad Agency Announcement in early November regarding a competition for an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation - Integrated Photonics.  Federal funding of up to $110 million will be made available, with private sector cost sharing of at least 1:1.

The White House announced the competition for an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute on October 3 as a component of its recognition of National Manufacturing Day.  Regarding this new Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI), Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society (a Member Society of the American Institute of Physics) commented “The DOD’s announcement to pursue a photonics-focused IMI is a significant success not only for our community but also for the future of scientific research and development.  OSA recognizes the time, resources and collaboration it took to participate in this process and commends the community for their efforts.  Photonics is receiving the recognition it deserves and American manufacturing stands to benefit as a result.”

This announcement is not a call for proposals.  The October 3 Notice of Intent for the Institute for Manufacturing Innovation – Integrated Photonics explains that the Broad Agency Announcement will be released early next month.  An Offerors Day is planned for November 18 in Northern Virginia.

There are currently four other Institutes.  The Department of Defense manages three Institutes for Additive Manufacturing, Lightweight and Modern Metals, and Digital Manufacturing and Design.  The Department of Energy manages an Institute for Power Electronics.  Acquisition is underway for an Advanced Composites Institute.  The Notice explains:

“These Institutes are expected to bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies, and the states to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially-relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications to bridge the gap between basic research and product development, provide shared assets to help companies access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, and create an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills. Each Institute will serve as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to support regional manufacturing hubs and ensuring that our manufacturing sector is a key pillar in an economy that is built to last.”

Regarding the proposed Photonics Institute, the Notice states:

“This IMI will be expected to create an end-to-end ‘ecosystem’ in the U.S. for Integrated Photonics; including responsive domestic integrated photonics chip fabrication foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development. The IMI will be structured to allow government, industry and academia to come together with the goal of organizing the currently fragmented U.S. capabilities in integrated photonics technology and better position the U.S. relative to global competition. The Integrated Photonics IMI will also enable universities and small to medium enterprises to participate in and benefit from the IMI’s manufacturing advances. The IMI will need to be structured to address both DOD and commercial applications, with a focus on maturing the technology from TRL [Technology Readiness Level] 4 to 7. The Institute will be expected to become self-sustaining after 5 years from the signing of the Cooperative Agreement.”

OSA, the American Physical Society (another AIP Member Society) and other scientific organizations have developed the National Photonics Initiative to increase public awareness of the importance of photonics.