This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 22, 2014

President Announces New Public-Private Manufacturing Innovation Institute

President Obama on January 15 announced the selection of a North Carolina-headquartered consortium of businesses and universities to lead the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute. To help fund the initiative, the Energy Department is awarding $70 million over five years, matched by at least $70 million in non-federal commitments by the winning team of businesses and universities, along with the state of North Carolina.

Led by North Carolina State University and including the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the new manufacturing innovation institute is focused on energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices. The initiative's goal is to make wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. Compared to silicon-based technologies, wide-bandgap semiconductors can operate at higher temperatures and have greater durability and reliability at higher voltages and frequencies, ultimately achieving unprecedented performance while using less electricity. The expected improvements will make electronic motors, consumer electronics, and grid-supporting devices faster, smaller, and more efficient.

The winning team brings together a consortium of leading companies that includes some of the world’s leading wide-bandgap semiconductor manufacturers, leading materials providers, and critical end-users such as John Deere and Delphi, with universities on the cutting edge of technology development and research. The institute is designed to serve as a regional hub to bridge the gap between applied research and product development. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, and most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes. See the White House press release, the Energy Blog by the Energy Secretary, the Energy Department fact sheet, and the EERE Blog.

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