An alliance of Kentucky and Tennessee universities and partner entities make up the Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change) coalition that has been awarded a $1 million National Science Foundation grant. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has a “core partner” role in the coalition led by the University of Kentucky.
Grant awards from the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program were announced by the agency today. The GAME Change team is among more than 40 unique teams to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards. The $1 million, Type-1 (first phase) award funds two years of planning to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions, positioning them to pursue a Type-2 NSF Engine funding award of up to $160 million to implement strategy.
The GAME Change team proposal aims to create a diverse innovation and talent development hub that secures U.S. competitiveness in Next-Generation Manufacturing and supply chain logistics, supports closed-cycle manufacturing to reduce waste and increases efficiencies across sectors including automotive, aerospace, energy, food and beverage, and materials.
UTC Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research Reinhold Mann leads the University’s involvement with the coalition.
“We are excited to be a core partner in the GAME Change Engine effort, and we look forward to supporting the team planning and Type-2 proposal development efforts,” Mann said. “We will leverage strong capabilities in experiential learning and applied R&D in several important areas for the GAME Change engine, including logistics and intelligent transportation systems, and advanced manufacturing.
“Completion of our new building to house the UTC Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing Application Center will provide a timely new asset relevant to GAME Change activities. Equally important to this effort is the Chattanooga Innovation Ecosystem, which includes successful programs that advance digital equity and inclusion, and talent, workforce and entrepreneurship development.”
The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.
“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”
Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the federal “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.
The GAME Change team is comprised of research, education, economic development, industrial and manufacturing leaders of the Southeastern Commerce Corridor (SCC) of Kentucky and Tennessee. The SCC includes the I-65 and I-75 thoroughfares and promising high-growth centers of Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; and Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga that outline an Appalachian region in need of greater connectivity and economic resiliency.
UTC is joined as a coalition core partner by the University of Louisville, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Western Kentucky University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The coalition includes more than 50 other collaborating partners across Kentucky and Tennessee, including more than 20 companies representing multiple industries in the region.