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Manufacturing Research Center lands $75M textile research deal

Posted on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is currently under construction east of Kissimmee. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will partner with center’s original academic partner, the University of Central Florida, and bring work on a federal project that will research new “smart fibers” for textiles.  Photo/Osceola County

The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is currently under construction east of Kissimmee. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will partner with center’s original academic partner, the University of Central Florida, and bring work on a federal project that will research new “smart fibers” for textiles. Photo/Osceola County

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
The money and capital backing keeps rolling in for the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center and its tenant, the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research.
County officials confirmed this week that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will partner with FAMRC’s original academic partner, the University of Central Florida, and bring work on a federal project that will research new “smart fibers” for textiles to the sensor research center currently under construction east of Kissimmee.
The deal could be worth $75 million locally. This news came shortly after the state Legislature approved $5 million in annual recurring funds for FAMRC and a $10 million lump sum this fiscal year.
ICAMR CEO Chester Kennedy said that UCF was a major player in bringing the MIT project on board, and has pledged $29 million, including salaries for a dedicated staff to work on the project.
“A piece of it is in-kind trade for space in the facility, but it’s still a significant project for us. It’s part of a $317 million initiative. Those are big, big numbers.”
According to a release from UCF, the initiative from the Department of Defense is to research clothing technology that could result in new shirts that monitor blood pressure, jackets that store and convert thermal energy and dresses that can change color on command.
Osceola County Manager Don Fisher said the agreement further legitimizes the capital the county is putting into FAMRC.
“They’re (MIT) here because of the sensor project. It shows the value of what we’re doing and hope to continue to accomplish over there,” he said.
In 2015, FAMRC was in the running for a $110 million grant to fund a photonics institute at the site, but lost to Rochester, N.Y.
With foundations finally complete, construction at the site is going vertical at a brisk pace. The two-story, 100,000 square-foot facility could be ready for occupancy in spring 2017. Osceola County is using bonds to pay its share, $61 million of the $70 million needed for construction and to furnish some of the hardware needed for research.