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Bringing Research to Market to Advance American Manufacturing

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An LED streetlight installation by EcoFit Lighting of Lenexa, Kansas, working with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, an EDA University Center. (Photo: EcoFit Lighting)

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine, Economic Development Administration

For U.S. manufacturers today, questions abound that might have been simpler to answer in times gone by, such as: What is the best way to commercialize a new technology? How can a new process be incorporated into a new production system? What locations will best service a national or international clientele? Where can a cadre of technically-trained workers be found?

For answers to such questions, manufacturers in Kansas are fortunate to be able to turn to the Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Over the past decade, this organization—which helps businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies—has undertaken projects in 66 of Kansas’ 105 counties, helping many companies to grow, prosper and succeed.
AMI’s mission is simple: to advance technologies, people, and companies through collaborative engineering and business partnerships. To accomplish this, AMI has a consulting staff of 15 technical and business professionals and 30 student interns who help manufacturers in Kansas develop and refine their products and bring them to market.

In 2010, AMI was chosen as one of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Centers. This program supports more than 50 institutions throughout the country that make the resources of universities available to the economic development community, particularly in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. With federal funding through the EDA University Center program, AMI has been able to provide services to local and regional planning organizations in Kansas to support regionally identified, bottom-up strategies that help support business expansion and job creation.

One advantage of AMI’s approach to helping businesses is that its client companies have access to the resources of multiple partner organizations that complement its work. These include the Kansas Opportunity Innovation Network, the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, and the Kansas Department of Commerce.
 
The Kansas Wind Energy Supply Chain Survey is an example of such a collaborative effort. This study solicited data from organizations in the wind industry supply chain (and those looking to enter the market) to measure the state’s wind energy capabilities. It captured such important information as capabilities, barriers to entry, and workforce issues in the states, which is located in the heart of the nation’s Wind Corridor. The report will serve as a vital planning tool for businesses looking to enter an industry with enormous growth potential.

Through EDA’s investment, AMI is bringing research to market as businesses seek to build it here and sell it everywhere. Whatever the industry—be it bioscience, energy, transportation, environmental technology, or manufacturing sector —AMI’s expertise is helping companies grow, hire, and compete in the global marketplace.

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