Utah was one of seven regional innovation cluster (RIC) initiatives awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI) received the award to expand its efforts to foster small business growth within the advanced materials and manufacturing industry cluster in Utah.
“We’re really pleased that SBA found we were a good fit for what they were looking for,” said Jeff Edwards, executive director of UAMMI. “95 percent of the companies we work with in this cluster are considered small businesses.”
As part of the RIC initiative, UAMMI, in partnership with LSI Business Development and Grow Utah, will work to drive innovation, job creation and help grow Utah’s rural and small business economy within this industry cluster. Through the SBA award, UAMMI will work to build public-private partnerships to align federal resources and programs with existing state and local resources to build more prosperous economies in rural Utah.
“We are really the connector between companies and we also have a role in helping entrepreneurs get started,” said Edwards.
In focusing on growing Utah’s advanced materials cluster, UAMMI aims to attract, create and grow new business startups while fostering innovation and commercialization. In particular, this grant will be an opportunity to bring together potential partners, such as the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), to collaborate, share ideas and identify opportunities for growth in advanced materials and manufacturing.
“The SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters connect and enhance innovation assets so that small businesses can effectively leverage them to commercialize new technologies and expand into new markets,” said SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development Allen Gutierrez.
The grant also builds on a federal grant UAMMI received at the same time last year to produce carbon composite additive manufactured parts for the U.S. Air Force. This technology will give UAMMI the ability to 3D print carbon based replacement parts for legacy aircraft on demand — something often prohibitively expensive and time consuming using traditional technologies.
UAMMI’s additive manufacturing team is currently manufacturing the legacy aircraft parts at the USTAR Innovation Center using a state-of-the-art carbon-based 3D printer provided by project partner Impossible Objects.
“The regional innovation cluster award is an exciting opportunity for our partner, UAMMI,” said Barbara Araneo, Ph.D., acting executive director of USTAR. “We look forward to finding new ways to collaborate with UAMMI and find new opportunities to grow Utah’s advanced materials and manufacturing industry in Utah.”