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NIST Launch Competition for AI-Focused Manufacturing USA Institute

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) plans to announce an open competition for a new Manufacturing USA institute focused on using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the resilience of U.S. manufacturing. NIST anticipates that $70 million in federal funds will be invested in this new institute over five years, with an equal or greater contribution from private and other nonfederal funding sources.

“AI is an accelerator of our productivity and of human abilities — it can make us better, faster and stronger in so many ways. I’m particularly excited about the potential for AI to supercharge manufacturing and the ways it can strengthen American workers and businesses and make our country more competitive in the global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This new Manufacturing USA AI-focused institute will build on the Biden-Harris administration’s extensive work to revitalize American manufacturing, invest in innovation, and ensure American workers are ready to meet the challenges of the future.”

NIST has published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations among industry, academia, federal laboratories, and state and local government agencies.

“Manufacturers that make smart use of AI to improve operational performance and strengthen supply chains will be more productive and resilient as they compete in an increasingly crowded global marketplace,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. “We look forward to reviewing applications for a new Manufacturing USA institute that will strengthen the national economy by helping domestic manufacturers maximize the potential of AI.”

Manufacturing USA is a national network of institutes that brings together people, ideas and technology to solve advanced manufacturing challenges. All Manufacturing USA institutes are public-private collaborations focused on technology, supply chain, and education and workforce development.

The AI institute will be a new addition to this network and will focus on conducting research and development projects, establishing employer-led sectoral partnerships to develop training resources, and creating pathways for the skilled workforce needed to move innovation into industrial practice.

NIST expects the institute to achieve time-bound outcomes that support manufacturing resilience such as accelerating adoption of new technologies, performing predictive maintenance, optimizing manufacturing processes and working capital, and predicting and mitigating risks from supply chain disruptions.

NIST plans to use a two-stage process for soliciting applications for this Manufacturing USA institute. Concept papers will be considered in the first stage of the competition. In the second stage, applicants with the best concepts will be invited to submit full proposals.

In addition, NIST expects to open the AI for Resilient Manufacturing competition in early spring 2024.

This NOI for an AI Manufacturing USA institute is separate from any planned solicitation for a CHIPS Manufacturing USA Digital Twin institute and from NIST’s U.S. AI Safety Institute (AISI).

Manufacturing USA was created to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing through large-scale public-private collaboration on technology, supply chain, and advanced manufacturing workforce development. The network comprises the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy and Defense, their sponsored manufacturing innovation institutes, and six additional federal agency partners, creating a whole-of-government, national effort to drive innovation in manufacturing. In 2022, the network worked with over 2,500 member organizations, including more than 1,500, mostly small, manufacturers; collaborated on over 670 applied R&D projects; engaged over 106,000 people in advanced manufacturing workforce development; and generated investments of $416 million in these activities from state, federal and industry funds.

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