MI’s Power Electronics Industry Collaborative Snags $500K Award

5/13/14Follow @XconomyDET

Today, NextEnergy announced that the Power Electronics Industry Collaborative (PEIC) has been awarded a two-year, $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The award was given as part of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia, or AMTech, program to fund the PEIC’s efforts toward strengthening the domestic power electronics cluster and supply chain. NextEnergy will receive more than $300,000 of the award to serve as a subcontractor responsible for value chain analysis, convening industry, and technology and manufacturing road-mapping.

The PEIC, which was formed in 2012, is an industry-led organization of U.S. power electronics companies working to accelerate the development and growth of the sector domestically, says Dan Radomski, NextEnergy’s vice president of industry and venture development. Some of the group’s members include GM, Delphi, Dow Corning, Magna, and Infineon.

Because the PEIC is so new, it doesn’t have a staff. So, it partnered with NextEnergy to apply for the NIST award so it could leverage that organization’s staff. “Basically, we’re a contractor to them,” says Jean Redfield, NextEnergy’s CEO. “We do the heavy lifting on market research and industry convening. If the PEIC were five or 15 years old, it would have a permanent staff. But because it’s so young, it needed to collaborate.”

The AMTech program supports industry-led organizations that are developing plans to address the challenges standing in the way of growing advanced manufacturing in the United States. The power electronics industry is currently anchored in Asia, while the U.S. trails other nations in developing the ecosystem necessary to support the competitive manufacturing of power electronics for the ever-growing global market. Redfield says the NIST award will help efforts toward getting the power electronics ecosystem to reach critical mass in the U.S.

“We can’t let power electronics go the way of semi-conductors,” Redfield says, referring to the fact that the semi-conductor supply chain resides almost entirely outside of the United States. “I think we have plenty of capability, but we’re not at the scale to ensure global leadership. That’s what we’re working toward—U.S. competitiveness.”

Redfield says much of the award will be used to stoke innovation and scale in the supply chain. According to Radomski, the award is “significant in that it will position PEIC along with federal agencies like NIST and the Department of Energy to truly understand our current domestic competitiveness position and set the national agenda for how to improve the U.S. market.

“This effort will also provide recommendations on future policy and federal funding priorities in power electronics and put Michigan companies and universities on the front line to collaborate on these efforts,” he added.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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