PEORIA, Ill. —The Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher, a new program launched by IMEC, is intended to help small and medium-sized manufacturing firms (SMMs) accelerate technology adoption in their products and processes. The program will present $25,000 matching fund awards to selected Illinois manufacturers, enabling them to acquire knowledge from industry experts to help resolve minor technological issues or outline possible solutions for a more complex problem.
Projects are expected to be practical in nature and focus on productivity improvements and/or product development that leads to substantive results, IMEC said in a news release.
Illinois is a U.S. manufacturing powerhouse that generates $304.8 billion in annual output, according to a recent Illinois Manufacturers’ Association study. The state’s manufacturing base is built on supply chains of small and mid-sized manufacturers, which represent 99 percent of the sector. These companies are at the heart of communities across the state. Yet, many of these manufacturers are challenged to acquire the necessary expertise and funding to adopt new technologies that are vital to transform and modernize their operations.
“Global trends like Industry 4.0 and the workforce skills gap are rapidly changing the manufacturing landscape,” said David Boulay, Ph.D., and president of IMEC, in the release.
“This is happening while we are witnessing slower productivity growth in small and mid-sized manufacturers. The timing of this program is critical for Illinois manufacturers to respond to this changing landscape.”
The Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher will lead to a total investment of $2.5 million in the upcoming year, with approximately 50 projects expected to be completed, according to IMEC. Existing Illinois manufacturers that employ between five and 500 people are encouraged to apply for the program. Selected projects must be conducted in Illinois and will be granted up to $25,000 towards the cost of using external expertise to successfully complete and exceed project goals. Recipients are expected to pay half the project’s eligible expenses.
“IMEC has been investing in the future of Illinois manufacturers by helping them break through growth barriers and sustain competitiveness,” said Craig Zoberis, president, Fusion OEM. “This is a great new opportunity for our small and medium-sized manufacturers to take control of their future and lead the way for Illinois to pioneer the next era of manufacturing.”
For more information about the program and to apply for the Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher, visit www.imec.org/innovation/. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
IMEC (www.imec.org), a member of the MEP National Network, is a team of improvement specialists who are dedicated to creating a positive impact on Illinois’ workforce and economy. With a mission to drive growth through enterprise excellence, IMEC helps organizations become more effective and efficient by identifying issues, developing and implementing solutions, and providing the necessary support that will allow them to excel in areas of leadership, strategy, customer engagement, operations, workforce, and measurement and results.
IMEC is one of the 51 MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) centers in the United States and Puerto Rico. Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers are part of the MEP National Network, which includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP). It includes more than 1,000 manufacturing experts at over 400 service locations, with the tools and resources to help U.S. manufacturers succeed and advance U.S. manufacturing.
Each center is a public-private partnership that connects manufacturers with government agencies, universities and research facilities, trade associations, and many more resources to foster growth and innovation. In 2018, the MEP National Network is reported to have helped more than 2,700 manufacturers and created over 122,000 jobs.