The Director shall establish a pilot program of awards to partnerships among participants described in paragraph (2) for the purposes described in paragraph (3). Awards shall be made on a peer-reviewed, competitive basis.
The purpose of the program under this section is to foster cost-shared collaborations among firms, educational institutions, research institutions, State agencies, and nonprofit organizations to encourage the development of innovative, multidisciplinary manufacturing technologies. Partnerships receiving awards under this section shall conduct applied research to develop new manufacturing processes, techniques, or materials that would contribute to improved performance, productivity, and competitiveness of United States manufacturing, and build lasting alliances among collaborators.
In selecting applications under this section the Director shall ensure, to the extent practicable, a distribution of overall awards among a variety of manufacturing industry sectors and a range of firm sizes.
In carrying out this section, the Director shall run a single pilot competition to solicit and make awards. Each award shall be for a 3-year period.