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Newly Formed Applied Research Institute to Tackle Microelectronics, Cybersecurity

In addition to streamlining the research and development of microelectronics, the institute will also invest up to $3.5 million over the next two years in the development of widely applicable technology that’s resistant to counterfeit and cyber attacks.

by Herald-Times / September 1, 2017

(TNS) -- The newly formed Applied Research Institute identified its first multimillion-dollar project Thursday as an investment in streamlining the research and development of microelectronics.

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Foundation used a $15 million portion of the grant money it received from a greater $42 million from Lilly Endowment in 2015 to found the institute with a central goal of recruiting, managing and facilitating research teams. The institute will connect researchers to state laboratories, equipment and research facilities across the state.

It will also invest up to $3.5 million over the next two years in the development of widely applicable technology that’s resistant to counterfeit and cyber attacks.

“We hope to borrow the best from IU, Purdue, Notre Dame and other places,” Applied Research Institute chairman and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart said. “We want to take advantage of those relationships not only for the technical expertise, but for the connective tissue.”

Renuart is one of eight members on the nonprofit’s board, which features leaders from state government, the defense sector, industry and research universities. The board had its first official meeting Thursday in Bloomington. Each member brings with them another path for research to follow, as the Applied Research Institute looks to call upon facilities at the Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indiana University, Purdue University and the Battery Innovation Center near Crane.

Microelectronics may be used in the defense sector to detect when someone has tampered with an electronic device, or they may have other cross-sector applications in the health sector related to implanted medical devices. Already, representatives from NSWC Crane, IU and Purdue have been tapped to provide data, analysis, manufacturing principles, hardware development and testing for the project.

“These projects are going to take on a life of their own, and it’s the Applied Research Institute’s job to make sure they’re not pulled down the rabbit hole,” Renuart said. “As we look at these things, you begin to see a convergence. We may start down the path with microelectronics, and this thing may branch down four other paths tomorrow.”

The institute will look to build a base staff of a dozen or so dedicated employees as it begins exploring three other key areas of focus beyond microelectronics: multi-spectral data fusion and security; high density power storage and management; and advanced material science. The board of directors approved hiring Bill Kiser as chief science and technology officer for the institute.

“These are big issues to tackle,” said Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of Energy Systems Network, a CICP company. “You’d have to have scores of researchers. Indiana has a tremendous set of assets and resources, but they haven’t always been aligned. This requires a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination to ensure that one-stop-shop access for researchers.”

Early recruitment will focus on projects that will show a return on investment in the next three to five years.

“You have to understand we are purpose-driven,” Renuart said. “We want to have a meaningful impact on a problem, today.”

Although that return may be financial in the form of matching grants from the U.S. Department of Defense or other major grants from public and private institutions, the greater goal of this regenerative fund is to see a return that’s less of a research paper and more of a research application.

“A return on investment for the Applied Research Institute is national recognition, or pre-eminence, in a research area and in generating innovation,” Mitchell said. “To some extent, we’re trying to innovate breakthroughs in technology.”

ARI Board of Directors

• Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

• Gen. Gene Renuart, United States Air Force (Retired) — ARI chairman.

• Phil Burkholder, president of Defense Aerospace, North America, Rolls-Royce.

• Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University.

• Steve Ferguson, chairman of Cook Group (past advisory board chairman).

• Michael McRobbie, president of Indiana University

• Brett Seidle, technical director with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (ex-officio).

• Melanie Walker, president and CEO, Tsuchiya Group North America, TASUS Corp.

©2017 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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