The federal government designated the New Energy New York (NENY) project led by Binghamton University a hub for battery innovation in a series of announcements Oct. 23.
NENY received a Regional Tech Hub designation from the Biden-Harris administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The Tech Hubs program aims to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize and deploy technology that will advance American competitiveness.
The announcement included a Zoom meeting with White House representatives and campus visit from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
“For months, you could feel the electricity and excitement in Binghamton over the growing battery industry, but today lightning has struck, and I am proud to announce the region has officially won the prestigious federal designation as America’s next battery Tech Hub,” Schumer says. “Binghamton University, its partners, and I have worked hand-in-hand to bring this idea to life, and now the ultimate recognition of the Southern Tier as the home to the future of our nation’s battery innovation has become a reality.”
NENY, one of 31 Tech Hubs, is the only awardee in the battery industry.
“NENY’s designation as an EDA Tech Hub is a momentous day in the history of the University, the coalition, as well across the Southern Tier of New York,” President Harvey Stenger says. “With [this] designation, Binghamton and the region will only grow as global leaders in energy storage solutions and will continue to be a driving force working towards a sustainable and secure energy future.”
The Tech Hubs designation significantly expands the goals and geographical region originally laid out by NENY for the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) last year. Project areas include broadening the scope from one of regional recovery to advancing the U.S. as a global competitor in the lithium-ion battery space, enlarging the focus from battery cell manufacturing to the entire battery lifecycle and supply chain, and expanding the supported region, core consortium members and external partnerships.
“New Energy New York’s designation as a Tech Hub by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) provides our consortium and wider team with the recognition we need to create a national battery epicenter in the region,” said Per Stromhaug, associate vice president for innovation and economic development. “As a federally designated Tech Hub, in addition to other prestigious acknowledgements, including being awarded the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grant and becoming a finalist in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Innovation Engines competition, we will be able to build out the battery innovation and manufacturing ecosystem here in Upstate New York and help the nation secure a domestic battery supply chain.”
Standout challenges the NENY Tech Hub designation will address include:
- The speed of innovation and lack of available resources to support domestic battery technology commercialization and market launch
- The development of a prepared and robust workforce to meet the expected job demand
- Fortifying U.S. national and economic security against unstable global battery supply chains.
“The EDA Tech Hub designation will help amplify the current efforts and momentum under New Energy New York, propelling our region towards becoming a nation-leading energy storage innovation ecosystem,” says Olga Petrova, director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships.
The NENY consortium includes the Office of the Broome County Executive, Broome-Tioga Workforce, C4V and iM3-NY, the Community Foundation for South Central New York, Cornell University, Electrovaya, FuzeHub, IncubatorWorks, Intertek, NY-BEST, Raymond Corp., Rochester Institute of Technology, the Southern Tier 8 Regional Board, SUNY Broome Community College, The Agency (Broome County IDA), the Research Foundation for SUNY and Three Rivers Development Corp. Additional Hub partners include organizations representing New York State, economic development, workforce development and equity, industry, trade, manufacturing, start-ups, and more.
“I am so heartened to see how our University’s and region’s focus on batteries and energy storage solutions – something I’ve dedicated my entire professional life to – has achieved this level of attention and support from our federal government,” says Stan Whittingham, distinguished professor and Nobel laureate. “Thank you, Senator Schumer, for your vision and unwavering advocacy. This Tech Hub designation is just what is needed to take our coalition’s work to the next level and beyond. I am confident we will become the clean energy hub for the United States.”
The U.S. battery manufacturing industry relies on often-unstable global supply chains. NENY is focused on strengthening the domestic supply chain and lessening innovation losses. One way to bring manufacturing back to the United States is to expand prototyping and pilot testing infrastructure, which will be available at NENY’s Battery-NY Technology and Manufacturing Development Center. The planned Battery-NY facility is a stand-out initiative of NENY’s overall goal to establish the U.S. as a global leader in battery innovation and manufacturing, with the Tech Hub designation supporting further key infrastructure expansions.
“I created the Tech Hubs program in my CHIPS & Science Bill, always with Upstate New York in mind, because I knew with federal investment we could write a new chapter for Upstate New York,” Schumer says. “With Tech Hubs, we can breathe new life into our cities with the industries of the future. And nowhere is that more true than in Binghamton.”
In conjunction with the announcement, the Department of Commerce is launching a second Tech Hubs Notice of Funding Opportunity, which allows NENY and other designated Tech Hubs to apply to receive between $40-$70 million each for implementation funding, totaling around $500 million.
“The designation of an EDA Tech Hub will ignite synergies sparked under New Energy New York between technology and industry and cast a transformative light on workforce development by cultivating an ecosystem where skills flourish, careers thrive and the future of the battery industry gleams with unprecedented potential,” says Stacey Johnson, director of workforce development for NENY.