Federal manufacturing program seeks applicants for projects in response to COVID-19 pandemic

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 857 views 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced Tuesday (March 31) the opening of a funding opportunity for “rapid, high-impact projects” in support of the response to the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, pandemic.

The agency will use money from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was approved March 27 and award grants through the NIST Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program with no requirements for cost matching.

The grants will be available to Manufacturing USA institutes, which is a network of 14 public-private partnerships that work with academic and private sector manufacturing organizations on research and development and manufacturing skills training. The focus for each institute can include biofabrication, 3-D manufacturing or advanced functional fabrics.

“These new grants contribute to President Trump’s whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Wilbur Ross, secretary for the Department of Commerce. “These grants will be awarded with speed and agility, as the Department of Commerce aims to work at the ‘speed of business’ to meet this unprecedented health challenge.”

“Manufacturing USA’s network includes more than 2,000 R&D institutions and manufacturers of all sizes, two-thirds of Fortune 50 U.S. manufacturers and nearly every top-ranked research and engineering university in the U.S.,” said Walter Copan, undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and NIST director. “This community of world-leading manufacturers is well positioned to distribute high-impact funding into existing manufacturing sector efforts that will support our COVID-19 response.”

The institutes are asked to propose projects that might include medical or non-medical countermeasures; grants to accelerate production of critical materials, equipment and supplies; additional production facilities; technology road-mapping for pandemic response and recovery; leveraging institute capabilities to strengthen state and community resilience; returning to the United States the manufacture of critical conventional drugs and ensuring supply chains for critical materials related to pandemic response; or workforce development and training for manufacturing workers.

Grant money for individual projects is expected to range between $250,000 and $10 million. The deadline to apply has yet to be set, but it will be announced 90 days before it closes.

Link here to apply.

Recently, Congress passed the CARES Act that allocates $2.2 trillion for businesses, residents, federal agencies, and state and local governments. Within that amount, $150 billion was set aside for state and local governments. Of that, $30 billion is expected to go to states and educational institutions. On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson established a 15-person steering committee that will decide on how to spend the $1.5 billion in federal funds the state may receive as a result of the act.

The United States has 165,874 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 3,178 people have died as a result of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 809,608 people in 179 countries have been diagnosed with the virus, and 39,545 have died from it. In total, 172,869 people have recovered from it.