Obama Administration teams with Apple, HP, Boeing on new wearable tech hub in Silicon Valley

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) smiles as he speaks with members of the Team America Rocketry Challenge competitors representing the U.S. Virgin Islands as he plays host to the 2015 White House Science Fair at the White House in Washington, March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTR4UJ3P

The Obama Administration will make an announcement later today that it will establish a new flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing innovation hub in Silicon Valley. More than $171 million will be invested in the “manufacturing innovation institute,” marking the first time such an organization has been headquartered on the West Coast.

This institution is another extension of the U.S. Government’s relationship with the private sector, and is led by the FlexTech Alliance. Included in this arrangement are 162 companies, nonprofits, labs, and universities, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, General Motors, Motorola, Stanford, and many others. Both the Department of Defense and this private consortium will look to enhance the U.S.’s standing in “next-generation bendable and wearable electronic devices.”

The Obama Administration says the institute will “work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing processes for flexible hybrid electronics.” To accomplish this, four objectives are being targeted:

  • Develop an end-to-end stretchable electronics “ecosystem” in the U.S., giving teams access to the necessary tools, facilities, and workforce.
  • Create a universal manufacturing platform that will make it easier to scale the technologies across markets to help drive cost, performance, and other requirements.
  • Gather together the best teams from throughout the technology industry, including manufacturers, silicon and other material suppliers, developers, government officials, and academic advisors.
  • Pair tech companies with end users of flexible platforms and top research universities.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will be in Silicon Valley today to speak at a press conference announcing the news. This initiative comes under Department of Defense (DoD) purview since it will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Federal Agency is also chipping in $75 million in funding over five years. More than $90 million in funding will also be provided by the private sector, bringing the grand total to more than $171 million.