The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, launched in 2014, focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing, with specific goals of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the United States. Over a five-year period, the Fund, a collaboration of Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and The United States Conference of Mayors, provided a total of $10 million in competitive grants to universities and their research arms for applied research projects that advance innovative solutions to key challenges that, once addressed, can:
- lower the cost of making consumer products in the U.S.;
- lead to broader innovation in overall manufacturing processes, with an emphasis on sustainability;
- jumpstart innovation leading to commercialization of new manufacturing technologies in selected focus area industries; and, ultimately,
- drive job creation within the U.S.During the first three years of this program, three rounds of project proposals were
During the first three years of this program, three rounds of project proposals were evaluated. In the first round, projects chosen for funding were in areas such as 3D printing, mold fabricating, small motor assembly, and textile manufacturing; in the second and third rounds, textile manufacturing became the exclusive focus of the Fund.
Across the three rounds, grants were awarded to 13 of the nation’s top research institutions: Clemson University, Cornell University, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, University of Georgia Research Foundation, Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis, University of Louisville, North Carolina State University College of Textiles, Oregon State University, Texas Tech University, University of Texas – Arlington, University of North Texas, University of Massachusetts – Lowell, and Washington State University.
All of the projects funded have been endorsed by mayors of cities in the areas in which these research institutions are located. Mayors are playing roles in efforts to increase the visibility of the work being done and to encourage industry adoption of the innovations under development. As results of the funded projects become available, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Walmart, and the Walmart Foundation will work with the researchers to maximize the impact of their innovation processes in their targeted manufacturing fields.