Canton’s Innovation Institute to Increase Region’s National Visibility

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The creation of the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Canton, announced by President Obama on Tuesday, will help increase the region’s visibility nationally, says Daljit Doogal, corporate attorney and managing partner at Foley and Larder’s Detroit office.

The Institute will receive $70 million in federal funding over five years, matched by another $78 million from the consortium partners, which include 34 companies, nine universities and lads, and 17 other organizations.

“They’re saying (the hub) will add 10,000 jobs over the next five years, but there’s a multiplier effect to that as well,” Doogal says. “Hopefully, we’re going to see a lot of the talent we’ve been losing to other states to now look at (Michigan), and say, ‘Maybe this is a place to work and raise a family.’”

The institute — led by the University of Michigan, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, and Ohio State University — is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a White House initiative to help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive.

Its purpose will be to develop and expand the use of technologies relating to lightweight high performing metals and alloys. Considering the importance of this technology in relation to vehicle durability and fuel-efficiency, Doogal says the hub could position Michigan as the poster child for light weighting technology.

In addition to the LM3I Institute, a good sign for the manufacturing industry is the increasing number of investments by venture capital and private equity funds, Doogal says.

“We’re seeing a lot of new money coming into the manufacturing industry,” he says. “Before, we used to see more strategic acquisitions where one big supplier would buy another big or smaller supplier. There wasn’t as much of a focus on the high-tech end of manufacturing, which is what venture capitals (are interested in). Now you’re seeing new money coming into the industry to invest in the new technology.”

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