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Obama’s $500 Million Initiative to Fund Energy Efficiency Technologies

President Obama launched a national initiative which will leverage over $500 million in investments to fund emerging technologies that can increase the energy efficiency of industrial facilities and create manufacturing jobs.

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, or A.M.P., will harness the cooperation of the United States’ top manufacturing companies and universities to invest in information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. The government eyes these sectors as areas that create processes which reduce costs, improve product quality, and accelerate production, eventually leading to the creation of more jobs.

"Imagine if America was first to develop and mass-produce a new treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched; or solar cells you can brush onto a house for the same cost as paint... Imagine how many workers and businesses and consumers would prosper from those breakthroughs," said Mr. Obama to academics and businessmen at the unveiling of the initiative at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The president stressed that these technologies are not matters of science fiction, because they exist today and “sprang from the imagination of students and scientists and entrepreneurs".

"The purpose of this partnership is to prove that the United States of America has your back, is going to be supporting you — because that's the kind of adventurous, pioneering spirit that we need right now," added Mr. Obama.

The A.M.P. will also be funded by a three-year $120 million investment from the Department of Energy, to support the energy efficiency aspect of the initiative.

"These breakthrough manufacturing processes, technologies, and materials will help American companies reduce energy waste and lower costs," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The Energy department will support projects that can be commercialized within the next five to seven years. The department will fund 35 to 50 cost-shared projects under the initiative.

Projects on innovations in the earlier stages of development and can be completed in two years, such as applied research projects or those that establish a proof of concept, will be eligible for up to $1 million.

Projects associated with innovations further along in their development and can be completed in three years, such as laboratory testing or verification of a prototype system, will be eligible for up to $9 million.

The Energy department suggests applicants to form collaborative teams equipped with technical and commercial capabilities to enhance the projects’ prospects for success. Large and small companies, universities and academic institutions, trade organizations, national laboratories, and other research institutions are qualified to apply until August 25, 2011.

Apart from funding technologies that can increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes, the A.M.P. will invest in next-generation robotics; systems that reduce the time needed to make advanced materials for manufacturing products; new technologies that will greatly reduce time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods; and domestic manufacturing in critical national security industries.

“Today, I’m calling for all of us to come together – private sector industry, universities, and the government- to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world,” said Mr. Obama.

The A.M.P. is being developed upon recommendation of Mr. Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The council released a report, “Ensuring Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing”, calling for a partnership between government, industry, and the academe to identify challenges and opportunities to improve technologies, processes and products across multiple manufacturing industries.

The universities initially involved in the initiative will be Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, and University of Michigan. The manufacturing sector will initially be represented by Allegheny Technologies, Caterpillar, Corning, Dow Chemical, Ford, Honeywell, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Procter & Gamble, and Stryker.

By. Jen Balboa

Contributed by EcoSeed

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