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Snyder pitches business-university partnerships at Fraunhofer Institute in Germany

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PFINTZAL, Germany - Gov. Rick Snyder today traveled to Pfintzal, Germany on the second day of his European investment mission, where he participated in the Partnership Forum at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, Europe's largest application-oriented research organization.

While at the forum, Snyder presided over the signing of a Letter of Intent between the University of Michigan and the Fraunhofer Institute to form the Clean Transportation Innovation Cluster, a research program focusing on developing advanced electrical storage systems for the automotive industry.

"Michigan is home to three Fraunhofer centers, noted partnerships of businesses and our universities, where our best talents are discovering new things, making things and making things work," Snyder said. "Michigan is one of the top states in the nation for research and development with more than $16 billion in industrial research and development, and close to $2 billion in university research, and we're always working to help our leading universities turn the latest developments into jobs."

Fraunhofer USA currently has eight centers focused on sustainable energy, manufacturing innovation, biotechnology, medical devices, software engineering, lasers and coatings. The three Michigan centers include the headquarters in Plymouth, the Center for Laser Technology and the Center for Coatings & Laser Applications.

The Partnership Forum brought Snyder together with a select audience from Germany and Michigan to discuss its innovative cluster concept. Under the concept, leading universities and industries partner to accelerate product and process commercialization in advanced electrification storage technologies.

All three Michigan Fraunhofer centers are partnered with Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Fraunhofer's most recent partnership with U-M was started in 2009 and was funded through a seed program for Alternative Energy Technologies for Transportation. The success of the AETT partnership led to formation of the Clean Transportation Innovation Cluster which both U-M and Fraunhofer hope to expand to include industry partners.

Snyder participated in the forum with German and American executives in the advanced energy storage industry, Fraunhofer staff from Michigan and Germany, and representatives from Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

The Fraunhofer Institutes are the model for a new $1 billion private-public partnership program now being considered by the federal government. The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would be a joint effort between the U.S. departments of Defense and Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. Its goal would be to "revitalize U.S. manufacturing. . . through a network of institutes where researchers, companies and entrepreneurs can come together to develop new manufacturing technologies with broad applications," according to the budget submission.

Snyder arrived in Turin, Italy on Sunday with a delegation of state and local officials and economic developers for an eight-day investment mission to strengthen relationships and attract job-creating investments. They will spend the rest of the week in Germany meeting with government officials and business executives before returning on Saturday.

Follow the governor on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RickforMichigan and on Twitter @OneToughNerd.


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