High school youth learn about entrepreneurship and business models, then develop FHE product ideas and pitches – all within 3 weeks.

NextFlex announced today the culmination of a novel month-long pilot program called Flex Factor that was designed to introduce high school students to the world of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and advanced manufacturing by way of an in-class entrepreneurship project. Over this last month, eight 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students from Lincoln High School learned more about the career opportunities and educational pathways to pursue in order to enter into this exciting industry.

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From left: NextFlex Director of Workforce Development Guy Brynt Parmeter, Lincoln High School Principal Matt Hewitson, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, NextFlex Executive Director Dr. Malcolm J. Thompson, and Lincoln High School Teacher Ryan Alpers congratulate Flex Factor participants.

Flex Factor required participants – eight students from Lincoln’s Capstone Course – to work in teams, guided by a NextFlex mentor, to develop and pitch a business model idea associated with an advanced manufactured human health or performance-monitoring device. During their journey, they also conducted tours at Jabil manufacturing facilities, Evergreen Valley Community College, and the NextFlex headquarters and pilot line facility. This morning, the students presented their business model ideas for a drug test patch and an injury monitoring tape, and conducted a meet-and-greet with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Mayor Liccardo recognized this inaugural cohort by commending their efforts and entrepreneurial spirit.

NextFlex is one of nine Manufacturing USA institutes developed in the past few years designed to revitalize US manufacturing. NextFlex’s mission is to drive acceleration and adoption of FHE, combining the ability to add electronics to new and unique materials that are part of our everyday lives with the power of silicon integrated circuits. The result is lightweight, low-cost, flexible, conformable and stretchable smart products to solve new problems and advance the efficiency of our world. To that end, for this industry to take root, an influx of new talent, primed to view FHE manufacturing as an exciting, viable profession, will be necessary. This is what NextFlex aimed to achieve with this pilot program at Lincoln, with the intent to learn how to scale this program regionally and nationally in the near future.

About Flexible Hybrid Electronics
Once in full production, FHE will usher in a new era of “electronics on everything.” 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 we haven’t imagined. But to develop these enabling FHEs, new manufacturing solutions are required and they come with significant integration challenges. Working alone, it would take years, perhaps decades, and unprecedented amounts of capital for a company to create the infrastructure to support mass production of FHEs. NextFlex, along with its members, is working to rapidly uncover and solve the complex manufacturing issues associated with production of flexible hybrid electronics, and ultimately create a manufacturing infrastructure that can efficiently be spun out to private industry.

About NextFlex
NextFlex was founded on August 28, 2015, through the execution of a Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense and FlexTech Alliance. A public-private partnership, NextFlex is the seventh Manufacturing Innovation Institute funded through Manufacturing USA to create, showcase, and deploy new capabilities and new manufacturing processes. More information about NextFlex, can be found at www.nextflex.us.