New Commitments Support Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative

Today, at a White House event, leaders from industry, academia, national labs, and government announced more than a dozen new commitments to advance the Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative—an ambitious challenge to double the speed and cut the cost of discovering, developing, and deploying new high-tech materials in the United States.

The President announced the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) in June 2011 as part of a broader effort to create new jobs, solve societal challenges, and enhance America’s global competitiveness by bolstering the U.S. advanced manufacturing enterprise. New, high-tech materials can revolutionize manufacturing, helping to make vehicles that are safer and lighter; packaging that keeps food fresher and more nutritious; and lightweight bullet-proof vests for police officers and soldiers, among countless other applications. But the pathway from discovery to commercialization can take decades.

“The invention of silicon circuits and lithium ion batteries made computers and iPods and iPads possible, but it took years to get those technologies from the drawing board to the market place,” the President said when he announced the Initiative, at Carnegie Mellon University. “We can do it faster.”

Today’s White House workshop, attended by more than 170 leaders from the public and private sectors, aims to further galvanize that effort. Some of the key announcements being made today include:

  • Broad Industry Partnership by Over 60 Institutions:  Pledges by more than 60 companies and universities to advance the President’s Materials Genome Initiative through their business, research, and education practices.
  • Regional Partnerships to Accelerate Work:  Argonne National Laboratory will collaborate with Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and local industries to build new cross-disciplinary teams that will have increased access to Argonne’s advanced materials research and development capabilities.
  • Open Access Made Available to Millions of Molecules:  Harvard University leveraging IBM’s World Community Grid and in collaboration with Wolfram Research committed to openly disclose the properties of 7 million newly discovered molecules.
  • New Tools for the Classroom:  Autodesk is committed to making technology and a library of 8000 materials available to the education community, which will complement their open access education modules in advanced materials. 
  • Predicting the Properties of Nanomaterials:  Ten Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative unveiled a new “signature initiative” to stimulate the development of models, simulation tools, and databases that will enable the prediction of specific characteristics of nanoscale materials.

These and the other new commitments add to previously announced Administration investments spanning nine Federal programs, and reflect the MGI’s “all hands on deck” approach that enlists the wealth of ingenuity, imagination, and brainpower that exists in American research institutions, small businesses, large corporations, professional societies, and elsewhere. 

The materials community has mobilized. The Administration is working to lay a foundation for a new era of policies, resources, and infrastructure that will support advanced materials, and American institutions have committed to build upon that Federal progress. Together, we are on track to achieve the President’s vision for advanced materials. 

For further details about the Materials Genome Initiative and a full list of commitments announced today, check out this MGI fact sheet.

Cyrus Wadia is Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Materials R&D at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

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