PNW Selected as Regional Hub for New Smart Manufacturing Institute

Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) congratulated the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition for being selected to lead the Department of Energy’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. President Obama made the announcement on June 20 at a conference in Washington, DC.

This new manufacturing innovation institute will include a regional center in the Pacific Northwest, with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory serving as the lead. The institute will also include local partners from academia, the public and private sectors, and non-profit partners, including the University of Washington (UW), Washington State University (WSU), the Washington State Department of Commerce, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and Microsoft. 

In March, Sen. Cantwell joined Sens. Murray, Wyden and Merkley, as well as the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation, in advocating for the selection of the Pacific Northwest as a regional center, given its leading role in smart manufacturing and the development of software and clean energy technology. 

“The Pacific Northwest has a decades-long history in energy efficiency investments designed to support a low-cost power system and competitive business environment,” Sen. Cantwell wrote. “Over the years, energy efficiency programs in the Pacific Northwest have created a rich ecosystem of companies, local governments, utilities, contractors and organizations oriented toward advanced technologies, new applications, market testing, acceleration and deployment.”

The Northwest Regional Manufacturing Center will focus on using smart manufacturing technology to improve the manufacturing processes of some of the most energy intensive manufacturing industries in the region: food processing, advanced materials and forest products.  

“As the lead of CESMII’s Northwest Regional Center, PNNL will coordinate efforts to accelerate, develop and test smart manufacturing technologies that can easily be adopted by industry,” saidJud Virden, associate laboratory director for energy and environment at PNNL. “Sen. Maria Cantwell and the entire Northwest Congressional delegation threw their support behind our proposal, for which we are grateful. The delegation knows well that our region has much to offer in terms of clean energy technology and, in linking advanced sensors, controls, platforms and modeling to our historically strong manufacturing sectors, we can increase efficiency and help create jobs not only here but across the nation.”

"The University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest have long been leaders in both manufacturing and software technology. The UW’s Clean Energy Institute is proud to be engaged in this partnership and this award will help further UW's research and develop the next generation of smart manufacturing technology that will create jobs and save energy. We thank Sen. Cantwell and the Washington state congressional delegation for their support,” said Prof. Daniel Schwartz, director of the Clean Energy Institute and Boeing-Sutter Professor of Chemical Engineering at the UW. 

“WSU is proud to be a part of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, which was announced as the third institute within the administration’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation,” said Chris Keane, vice president of research for Washington State University. “With the support of Sen. Cantwell, Sen. Murray and the congressional delegation, Washington State University will apply advanced research capabilities to resolve complex challenges within the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute.”

Based in Los Angeles, California, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition will bring more than $140 million in public-private investment from leading universities and manufacturers in partnership with the Department of Energy. Comprised of roughly 200 partners from across the country, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition will lead the institute in order to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced sensors, data analytics and controls, while reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of U.S. manufacturing.