By Baylee Pulliam
The University of Louisville has been awarded up to $13 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to launch a new statewide manufacturing resource center.
The center, known as the Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership (KMEP), will sit in the UofL Office of Research and Innovation and leverage university expertise and capacity to provide research, business development, access to talent and other supports. The goal is to help manufacturers boost productivity, retain and create jobs and compete in new markets here and abroad.
“This competitively won grant illustrates the confidence that the University of Louisville holds in the research and development sphere,” said UofL Interim President Lori Stewart Gonzalez. “Business and industry leaders – from CEOs at multinational corporations to entrepreneurs ramping up operations on their first viable idea – know that UofL has the resources they can draw upon to take ideas from concept to reality.
“The Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership will help small- and medium-sized businesses accelerate and strengthen growth and competitiveness in the global marketplace.”
KMEP is part of the MEP National Network, led by the DOC’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The network is meant to strengthen and empower U.S. manufacturers and is composed of 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. UofL will host Kentucky’s MEP after a competitive selection process.
“As a research powerhouse institution, UofL is committed to making a meaningful impact on the economy of the Commonwealth,” said Kevin Gardner, executive vice president for research and innovation. “Through KMEP, we will leverage the resources of our campus to help Kentucky manufacturers grow and thrive.”
KMEP will be led by Scott Broughton, director of manufacturing engagement in the Office of Research and Innovation. Broughton has extensive experience in manufacturing and business development and led the state’s previous extension partnership.
“UofL has vast resources, technologies, capabilities, training in operational improvement, etc. that manufacturers simply do not know are available to them,” Broughton said. “Through the Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership, I look forward to connecting manufacturers with those resources to solve problems and innovate.”
The center, he said, will work closely with UofL’s prominent manufacturing-related research centers, including the Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology (AMIST) and the Louisville Automation and Robotics Research Institute (LARRI), as well as its experts in fields across the campus. UofL also has previously received numerous grants aimed at programming to help manufacturers adopt additive manufacturing and the smart, connected technologies of Industry 4.0.
“One of our driving goals is to build supports, like these, to better connect with and serve our industrial partners,” said Will Metcalf, associate vice president for research and innovation. “KMEP is another step toward that goal, and we look forward to being a resource for Kentucky manufacturers.”
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