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LIFT, Dept. of Defense unveil Phase 2 funding for operations in Puerto Rico

LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute, announced it has received funding for a second phase from the Department of Defense, through the Office of Naval Research, to continue technology and talent development operations in Puerto Rico in support of the island’s manufacturing base and workforce.

The $1 million grant is a continuation of the LIFT Puerto Rico program launched in 2022, with $1.9 million in support from the DoD Manufacturing Technology Program, overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, company officials said. The announcement was made during a recent visit to Puerto Rico by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.

“Our mission to drive American advanced manufacturing into the future through technology and talent development is a national mandate,” said Nigel Francis, CEO of LIFT. 

“We’re proud to be a partner with the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, the leadership in Puerto Rico, including Governor Pierluisi, and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) to carry out that mission in support of the island’s manufacturers and workforce,” he said.

Víctor Claudio, LIFT’s chief financial officer, who resides in Puerto Rico, said, “We’re thrilled to support Puerto Rican manufacturers and their workforce as part of our national manufacturing innovation institute mandate.”

“There is no doubt that innovation is ‘place based,’ which means we have not only brought the support of our existing ecosystem to the island, but we will continue to develop an engaged ecosystem of local manufacturers and help advance their technologies toward commercialization,” he added.

Since its launch, LIFT has engaged local stakeholders, built an ecosystem and evaluated ways to address the innovation needs of the island’s manufacturers and prepare the workforce for advanced manufacturing careers.

LIFT plans to announce a location for an advanced manufacturing applied R&D satellite center in Puerto Rico later this year, officials said.

Founded in Detroit and celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, LIFT is one of the original manufacturing innovation institutes, and serves as a technology accelerator, focusing on materials science, manufacturing processes, systems engineering and talent development to improve the national economy and security.

The institute is part of an ecosystem of more than 300 organizations. It accelerates technologies, such as hypersonic materials development and lightweight armor systems, into commercial industries and military applications, while also preparing the workforce for current and future advanced manufacturing jobs.

“The DoD institutes were created to move the needle in advanced manufacturing technology and talent across the country in support of the warfighter, and the work of LIFT truly meets that mission,” said Tracy Frost, director of the DoD Manufacturing Technology Program.

“The promise of LIFT combined with Puerto Rico’s robust manufacturing industry and military heritage will lead to success for the island and the nation,” Frost said.

Puerto Rico’s economy significantly benefits from manufacturing, which accounts for nearly half of its gross domestic product, and the island has a long history of manufacturing. Its diverse manufacturing sector includes biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, agroecology, aerospace, electronics, computing, engineering and construction, and apparel.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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