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Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (RFT-IMI)



On March 18, 2015, the President announced that $75 million from the Department of Defense has committed to an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation competition in Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles. The Department is launching a competition for leading manufacturers, universities, and non-profits to form a new manufacturing hub focused on revolutionary fibers and textiles technologies. This public-private partnership is expected to generate at least 1:1 cost-share from industry, bringing more than $150 million in public and private investment funds.

The Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (RFT-IMI) will ensure that America leads in the manufacturing of new products from leading edge innovations in fiber science, commercializing fibers and textiles with extraordinary properties. Known as technical textiles, these modern day fabrics and fibers boast novel properties ranging from being incredibly lightweight and flame resistant, to having exceptional strength. Technical textiles have wide-ranging applications, from advancing capabilities of protective gear allowing fire fighters to battle the hottest flames, to ensuring that a wounded soldier is effectively treated with an antimicrobial compression bandage and returned safely. The RFT-IMI will serve as a public-private partnership between government, academia and industry to address the spectrum of manufacturing challenges associated with this technology, from design to end products. It is envisioned to support an end-to-end innovation ‘ecosystem’ in the U.S. for advanced fibers and textiles manufacturing and leverage domestic manufacturing facilities to develop and scale-up manufacturing processes.

This investment drives the application of smart textiles to not only revitalize the domestic textile supply chain, but also creates global export opportunities. After being the poster child for the lost decade in U.S. manufacturing in the 2000s, the American textile industry is on the rebound, growing employment for the first time in two decades, increasing shipments by nearly a fifth since the recession, and winning globally with a 45% increase in exports since 2009. This announcement builds on this turnaround in American textile manufacturing and lays the foundation for future leadership in the production of sophisticated fibers and textile technologies.

The DOD anticipates funding $75 million for this Institute, distributed across five fiscal years (FY). Concept papers are due June 26, 2015. The full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), released May 13th, 2015, can be downloaded here. The original Notice of Intent (NOI) can be found on FedBizOpps.gov.

The Government plans to hold a Proposers’ Day for this competition on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 from 0800-1600 EST at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. The purpose of the Proposers' Day is to familiarize potential proposers with the concept and vision for the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute (RFT-MII) and the associated technology needs. This Proposers' Day is for informational purposes only and attendance is not a prerequisite for submitting a proposal. It will provide, however, a valuable opportunity for potential proposers to ask questions and receive answers regarding the solicitation.