What is the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund?
Innovation is part of the heart and soul of Walmart. Before it was a buzzword, Walmart has had an unwavering commitment to innovation in its approach to business, leadership and focus on the customer. The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund is a partnership between Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The Fund is focused on the development of U.S. manufacturing, with a specific goal of making it both easier and more competitive to make household goods in the U.S.
Why is the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund important?
Walmart is committed to American renewal and has announced it will buy an additional $250 billion in U.S.-made products over the next 10 years in an effort to grow and expand U.S. manufacturing and encourage the creation of U.S. jobs. By making production in the U.S. more cost effective and efficient, Walmart can bring its customers an increased number of U.S.-made products and manufacturers can create more jobs in America. Together, these commitments represent a significant investment that will help accelerate U.S. manufacturing.
How will the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing
Innovation Fund achieve this goal?
Funding research in the manufacturing space in focus areas identified as major challenges is another way Walmart can facilitate and accelerate U.S. manufacturing. The Fund will achieve this goal through grants that directly support applied research projects advancing innovative solutions to key challenges that, once addressed, can lower the cost of making consumer products in the U.S.
Who is eligible to receive funding from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund?
The Fund looks primarily at the following criteria: (1) impact on consumer product manufacturing, (2) stage of development and commercial viability, (3) degree of innovation, and (4) ability of the organization and team to successfully carry out the proposed project. Specific eligibility requirements are as follows:
*Note: The original eligibility categories in the Request for Proposals were narrowly defined as 501(c)3 organizations exclusively. To make it easier for public universities to apply for a U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant, we have amended the process to now include (I) 501(c)(3) organizations or (II) public universities that are instrumentalities of a state government. We welcome applications from both categories.1. Only U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations and public universities that are instrumentalities of a state government are eligible for funding at this time*
2. At least 50% of project teams must be based in the U.S.
3. Project teams should seek sponsorship from the mayor of a USCM mayor when submitting full project proposals
4. Proposed projects should address a technological innovation that can advance U.S. manufacturing. The following focus areas will be prioritized for funding:
- Projects reducing
the cost of producing textiles and apparel in the U.S.
- Fabric dyeing
- Cut and sew
- Projects addressing
common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer
- Tooling for injection molding
- Small motor manufacturing
Projects must have a budget exceeding $100,000
6. Overhead costs must not exceed 10% of total project budget
7. Prospective grantees should demonstrate an ability to conduct the proposed product via expertise and/or past experience
The Fund is currently not awarding grants for building or capital projects, supplier agreements, or other non-research projects. Individuals, municipalities and other government entities, political organizations and current or potential Walmart suppliers are ineligible for funding.
Grant Recipients for 2014:
In 2014, seven leading research and development institutions were awarded a total of $4 million in grants to create new processes, ideas, and job creation that will foster America’s growing manufacturing footprint.
The 2014 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners are:
- Georgia Tech Research Corporation for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control, a critical enabling technology for the automated production of sewn goods.
- Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling as an alternative to current metal-shaping practices.
- North Carolina State University College of Textiles to address challenges to manufacturing of furniture cushions in the U.S. by implementing new technologies in both fabric printing and cut-and-sew automation.
- Oregon State University to develop two novel alternative mold fabricating approaches, and evaluate for functionality, precision and cost reduction potential.
- Texas Tech University to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes.
- University of Texas at Arlington to develop a novel manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor sub-systems and assemble the motor components.
- University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an innovative approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the need for water in dyeing cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics and yarns.
The fund, which focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S., will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years. Read More about the grant's latest milestone in Walmart's unprecedented $250 billion domestic manufacturing commitment.