The University of Georgia to revolutionize the fiber and textiles industry through commercialization of highly functional, advanced fibers and textiles for the defense and commercial markets has partnership with a new national public-private consortium called Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, or AFFOA.
The AFFOA partnership builds on recent breakthroughs in fiber materials and manufacturing processes that will soon allow them to design and manufacture fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color.
The AFFOA mission is to transform traditional fibers, yarns and textiles manufacturing into a highly sophisticated functional system that will ensure America remains at the leading edge of fiber science. It brings together Fortune 500 companies, universities, fiber and textiles manufacturing facilities, state workforce development programs and federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the U.S.
The markets for revolutionary fabrics range from apparel, health care and consumer products to defense, transportation, software and architectural and structural textiles.
UGA President Jere W. Morehead said that the University of Georgia is proud to play a role in transforming fiber and textile manufacturing in America through their involvement in the AFFOA initiative.
Participation in this outstanding public-private partnership is aligned perfectly with their heritage as a land-grant university and their strong commitment to advance economic development in the 21st century.
Members of the consortium include Fortune 500 companies such as Corning, DuPont, Nike and Intel, as well as small and medium-sized companies spanning the electronics, materials, apparel, transportation, fashion, defense, medical and consumer good manufacturing sectors. It also includes leaders of the fabric industry, such as Inman Mills, and leading research universities MIT, Cornell University, Drexel University, the University of Michigan, the University of California, Davis and the University of Texas at Austin.
Vice President for Research David Lee, who has led UGAâ€™s participation in the consortium to date said that UGAâ€™s contributions to AFFOA tap into longstanding expertise in textiles, polymers and fibers, a track record of collaboration with industry, as well as their success in launching new businesses based on discoveries.
In addition to revolutionizing textile manufacturing, Lee said that they hope to reverse the downward trend in textile manufacturing employment. This initiative is projected to add 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years across a wide range of U.S. industries and sectors along the entire supply chain.
The effort is funded by a $75 million federal commitment and cost share matches from AFFOA partners totaling $317 million. UGA will receive at least $5 million over five years, with an additional investment of state matching funds.
UGA researchers who will play critical roles in AFFOA include Sergiy Minko, Georgia Power Professor of Polymers, Fibers and Textiles, College of
Family and Consumer Sciences and professor, department of chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Suraj Sharma, assistant professor in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors, College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Jason Locklin, associate professor in the College of Engineering and department of chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Researchers from the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center who conduct research on biopolymers also will contribute to research and development of new technical textiles. Innovation Gateway, UGAâ€™s commercialization and startup arm, will be instrumental in bringing new technologies to the market, including a portfolio of 10 existing textile, fiber and polymer technologies.
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