LIFT Seeks to Fast-Track Manufacturing Start-Ups

Lightweight materials technology proposals sought, for small and medium-sized enterprises or large organizations

The Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) program is initiating a new phase for its Fast Forge program, which solicits new ideas for lightweight materials projects and puts together teams to develop and commercialize those new technologies more speedily than LIFT’s larger objectives.

LIFT is public-private partnership focused on developing and deploying of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives. It coordinates academic and institutional research with likely and/or available industrial partners, with specific development targets. It also seeks to prepare current and future workers for new manufacturing methods.

LIFT is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is one of the founding institutes of Manufacturing USA, and is funded in part by the Dept. of Defense, with management through the Office of Naval Research.

Fast Forge was instituted in 2016, and currently there are two types of projects, one for large companies and one for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs.)

Now, and through June 1, LIFT is accepting proposals for Fast Forge projects at two levels:
– Innovator, specifically for SMEs to submit and lead a project, with academic support, to advance their technology; and
– Accelerator, for larger companies and organizations to lead a project, with academics and SME partners, to move its technology forward.

Information on submitting project ideas may be found at

Project ideas may be submitted in proposal form through June 1, 2019. The submissions will be evaluated by LIFT leadership and engineers according to technological merit, technology MRL level, program timing, funding requirement or total project value/cost share, LIFT member engagement, and planned use of the LIFT high-bay equipment.

Each project in the Innovator and Accelerator categories is required to have a maximum $250,000 budget and one-to-one cost-share of funding, and to be completed in a six-month timeframe. Non-LIFT members are eligible to submit project ideas, but companies must be (or become) a LIFT member to receive funding for a ‘Fast Forge’ project.

“So far as an institute, we have seen some tremendous successes in our initial program portfolio, but those were multi-year and multi-million dollar programs,” explained LIFT chief technology officer Hadrian Rori. “The goal of the new phase of ‘Fast Forge’ is to take the ideas already being generated in the industry, particularly from small and medium-sized manufacturers, and help develop them so they can be commercialized rapidly.”