The Future of Flexible Hybrid Electronics Has Arrived
It’s official: the era of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) is off and running! NextFlex hosted its Innovation Opening Day on Wednesday, August 31, at its new 34,000-square-foot facility in San Jose. The event drew more than 200 government dignitaries, state and local officials, and representatives from companies and universities across the U.S. ‒ all invested in building a manufacturing ecosystem and workforce for FHE. Top-tier broadcast, including local FOX and ABC affiliates, and print media reporters, including Wall Street Journal (read the article here), covered the event, with follow-on reports continuing to appear.
The grand opening took place just one year after Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited Silicon Valley to award NextFlex $75 million in federal funding and announce a cooperative agreement to establish this Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Opening remarks were delivered by NextFlex Executive Director Dr. Malcolm J. Thompson and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who enthusiastically applauded NextFlex for choosing to make its home base in the heart of Silicon Valley. Immediately following was a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the doors to the new state-of-the-art facility, which features a pilot manufacturing line and laboratory, along with sizeable office space to house member companies and other partners for onsite development and collaboration to resolve FHE manufacturing challenges—quickly and efficiently.
Inside, attendees heard from Congressional Representatives Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, all of whom all expressed delight at seeing how far NextFlex has come in just a year. Addressing the standing-room-only crowd, these highly respected officials talked about the tremendous impact this game-changing technology will have for the way we work, live and play—what it means not only for the state of California but also on a national and global level. Without the tireless support from these esteemed government representatives and others, NextFlex would not be where it is today.
The event also featured a motivating address by André J. Gudger, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, who conveyed his excitement surrounding this technology, and reiterated the importance of government and industry working together to ensure successful innovation. He also affirmed that the location of the institute was ideal, saying that this kind of innovation is “supposed to happen here in Silicon Valley.”
Dr. Thompson wrapped up the prepared remarks by providing an engaging look at the future of FHE, which ushers in a new era of “electronics on everything.” His talk focused on how intelligence will be taken out of the “boxes” or packages associated with traditional electronics like PCs, smartphones and tablets, and transplanted directly onto a variety of surfaces (including the human body), enabling an entirely new breed of defense and commercial applications unlike anything previously seen or imagined. Dr. Thompson also noted that, without a collaborative/ecosystem approach, it would take years and unprecedented amounts of capital for a company to create the infrastructure to support mass production of FHE – a challenge NextFlex is circumventing with the help of its members. Together, he observed, they are working to rapidly solve complex FHE manufacturing issues and get these amazing new products to market more quickly.
Attendees were then treated to tours of the new facility, more than 40 technology demonstrations by companies and universities all engaged in FHE, and a lovely reception hosted at neighbor and honorary member Blach Construction.
NextFlex would like to thank everyone who participated in its grand opening. Life-changing innovations are here, but many, many more are on the horizon. The growth and success of FHE manufacturing thrives upon the collaborative structure of the institute. We invite all who touch upon the manufacturing ecosystem to join NextFlex and have a seat at the FHE innovation table.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@NextFlexUS) for Open House highlights via bite-size posts, photos and links. Videos from the event will be made available on the NextFlex website shortly