Governor Wolf Congratulates Drexel and Other Universities on Federal Grant to Advance Textile Manufacturing in the Commonwealth

April 01, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf was in Boston, Massachusetts this morning for an announcement regarding a grant being awarded by the Department of Defense to a consortium that includes Pennsylvania research universities.

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), which includes Drexel University, will receive $75M from the Department of Defense to accelerate the growth of advanced fibers and functional fabrics in the defense and commercial markets.

This award, matched with $260M from universities, local/state governments, and industry partners, is the newest National Manufacturing Innovation Institute and focuses on the development of Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles.

“As the leader of our state, I was proud to provide the support I could to this consortium, led by Drexel and including five other research universities in Pennsylvania and nearly a dozen private sector companies across the commonwealth and nation,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Some of Pennsylvania’s most renowned higher education institutions will help drive this effort- in addition to Drexel, Carnegie Mellon, Jefferson, Temple, Penn State and Philadelphia Universities will all play a role.”

AFFOA, led by MIT, is a national public-private partnership that brings together geographically diverse academic, public sector and industry capabilities, linking them into a modern and efficient functional fabrics manufacturing ecosystem.

Investment partners for this project include some of the most important public and private entities driving and investing in innovation in Pennsylvania – Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Pennsylvania Angel Network, and the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Forecasts based on current market trends for the overall United States (U.S.) textile industry predict a loss of nearly 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

“The national effort we’re seeing here will work to address and expand this problem to disrupt the fibers and textiles market to enable American companies to expand and capture 30% of the global technical textiles market,” said Governor Wolf. “The mission is to bring back more than 50,000 specialized jobs in the next 10 years.

“While the recession was especially hard on the manufacturing sector, there are strong indicators that this industry will help lead the way to the commonwealth’s economic recovery. Public-private partnerships like this consortium are exactly the tools we need to rebuild manufacturing and drive innovation.

“The consortium will also partner with workforce training and capacity building partners like our community colleges and industrial resource centers. This is really important: improving the advanced manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania will increase well-paying jobs and give the nation a competitive edge in the global market.”

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