Honda Calls on Department of Defense to Create a $200 Million Manufacturing Innovation Institute in California

Jul 15, 2015
In The News
San Jose-Based FlexTech Alliance Would Lead DoD Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute

Washington, D.C. –Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) led a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, expressing support for San Jose-based FlexTech Alliance’s bid for a $200 million Manufacturing Innovation Institute with a statewide coalition of industry leaders, universities and trade associations to develop flexible hybrid electronics.

“FlexTech has a long history of partnering with the DoD and has a proven record of creating and sustaining flexible hybrid electronics. Silicon Valley is the heart of America’s new technology and innovative thinkers, and with the robust experience and expertise of the FlexTech Alliance, we can be sure that we will see exciting, inventive, and effective new technologies coming out of the Manufacturing Innovation Institute,” said Honda. “The Manufacturing Innovation Institute will create good, family-wage jobs right here in Silicon Valley.”

The FlexTech Alliance has submitted an application to head up the DoD’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute (FHE-MII). This Innovation Institute will be part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and managed by the United States Department of Defense. The FHE-MII will develop emerging technologies that will integrate electronics into a wide range of products for both military and civilian uses . Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) devices can be printed and attached to materials like fabric or curved surfaces, broadening the range of portable electronics in the military and beyond.

The FlexTech Alliance will have access to some of the world’s most experienced minds in FHE technology, drawing from more than 70 companies and universities across the state.  Industry and academic partners in California have raised more than $110 million to combine with $75 million from DOD should California be chosen for the center.  

The letter is also signed by Reps. Lofgren, Eshoo, Becerra, Bera, Brownley, Capps, Cárdenas, Chu, Costa, Hahn, Huffman, Lee, Lieu, Lowenthal, McNerney, Napolitano, Ruiz, Sanchez, Schiff, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, and Thompson.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Carter,

As members of the California delegation, we are writing to express our strong support for the California-led FlexTech Alliance application for the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute (FHE-MII).

Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) is an emerging technology that has the potential to reshape the electronics industry. Electronic devices can now be printed and attached to flexible, conformal materials like fabric or curved surfaces. FHE applications are diverse, with private companies as well as the US military exploring FHEs for wearable electronics and smart electronics in consumer goods, healthcare, computers, telecommunications, and defense. At a time when other countries are investing heavily in flexible hybrid electronics, the Department of Defense Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute will serve as an important catalyst to bring together FHE expertise and technologies throughout our country and focus investment in this budding field.

This effort is being led by the FlexTech Alliance, a San Jose-based nonprofit trade association chartered to ensure a robust supply chain for flexible printable electronics, and includes a diverse partnership of California based private industry leaders – including Qualcomm, Applied Materials, and Flextronics, trade associations – including Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), and academic institutions – including the University of California, San Diego; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, San Francisco; San Jose State University; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and Stanford University. FlexTech Alliance has a 20-year history of partnering with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies, and the private sector to ensure a robust supply chain of flexible electronics in the United States and advance technologies critical to national security and commercial end users.

We believe that California is a natural and ideal location for this FHE Institute. Locating the institute in California will enable collaboration between California’s IC industry and other leading technology companies, defense contractors, academic institutions, and end-users, bringing together the talent required for success and launching a new electronics revolution in our nation. The FHE-MII sited in California will grow the new FHE workforce, ensure a robust education pipeline, and yield a new industry sector aligned directly with California’s semiconductor integrated circuit industry. The FlexTech Alliance application has over 70 team members from across the country and has already secured nonfederal funding commitments of more than 150% of the Department of Defense contribution. Flexible hybrid electronics is an exciting and game changing new field, and California is the ideal place for a Manufacturing Innovation Institute to ensure that this new electronics revolution continues to be led by the United States.

We strongly support the California-led FlexTech Alliance application and appreciate your full and fair consideration, in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.