It’s been a very active few weeks. Earlier this month, Project Call 5.0 launched, our latest call for proposals to fund projects that further the manufacturability and adoption of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE). Response to the first four project calls exceeded expectations, resulting in over $73M in investments. PC 5.0 total project value is expected to exceed $10.5 million (project value/investment figures include cost-sharing) bringing the total anticipated investment, since NextFlex’s formation, to over $83.5M. Project Call 5.0 focuses on challenges related to scalable manufacturing and application-driven manufacturing gaps that have been prioritized by the NextFlex community across a wide range of application areas — from anti-counterfeiting to structural health monitoring to hypersonics. These areas cover the spectrum from design tools to fabrication processes to materials data generation. Important information about the PC 5.0 proposal process and timeline, including slides and recordings from the Proposer’s Day and informational webinar are available on our website.
Also, earlier in the month, NextFlex held the FHE Applications for Defense workshop hosted by Lockheed Martin at their Global Vision Center in Arlington, VA site. Attended by over 100 industry, academic, and government partners, the workshop took a fresh look at several application areas critical to DoD and the armed services. Robert Gold, Director of the Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, opened the workshop with a talk on how the Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering, Dr. Mike Griffin’s priorities drive the Department of Defense directions and investments. Mr. Gold, who has been a NextFlex champion since attending Innovation Day in 2018, told workshop attendees to keep the great ideas coming because FHE can have a significant impact on design of systems by reducing overall form factor size and weight and shortening manufacturing cycle times. We thank our colleagues at Lockheed Martin for once again being stellar hosts to the NextFlex community.
More recently, NextFlex hosted two iterations of FlexFactor® Finals at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, CA. Top performing teams of students who participated in FlexFactor during the Spring 2019 semester were chosen to advance to the Finals event, where they delivered streamlined versions of their original pitches to a panel of industry and academic mentors. Students represented the following Silicon Valley High Schools: Willow Glen, Leland, Gunderson, Santa Teresa, San Jose, Wilcox, Santa Clara, and Milpitas. Winning teams received trophies and the students earned bragging rights. FlexFactor continues to grow in popularity and the results are having an impact, having graduated over 2,000 students in Silicon Valley to date, and expanding nationwide with programs operating in Northeast Ohio and in the Madison-Huntsville region of Alabama.
Finally, as our attention turns to the summer ahead, we’ve welcomed 18 high school and college interns to gain valuable work experience at NextFlex, supporting student interests in printing and manufacturing, engineering, test and reliability, business development, and marketing. In fact, several of our incoming interns are returning after one or even two years’ experience with us! The office is a lot livelier these days with groups of students actively working on all sorts of helpful projects.
As always, keep the good ideas coming.
Malcolm J. Thompson, PhD
NextFlex Executive Director