LIFT Signs Lease on New Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Puerto Rico

Department of Defense institute satellite to focus on technology and workforce development on the Island.

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico – LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute, today signed the lease on a 28,000 square foot facility located at the Lincoln Plaza in Caguas, Puerto Rico as a satellite of its Detroit headquarters.

Similar to its work in Detroit over the last 10 years, LIFT will convene leading technology partners to conduct development activities in advanced materials and manufacturing processes as well as advanced manufacturing workforce training. Under the five-year lease, the institute will occupy the top floor of the Lincoln Plaza to conduct its activities.

Manufacturing accounts for nearly half of the gross domestic product of Puerto Rico and the Island has a long history of manufacturing and a diverse manufacturing economy, including biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, agroecology, aerospace, electronics, computing, engineering, construction, and apparel.

“As a national manufacturing innovation institute, we have a national mandate to support manufacturers and their workforce wherever we can, and that includes opening this new satellite facility in Puerto Rico,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. “There is no doubt that innovation is ‘place based,’ which means we not only plan to bring the support of our existing ecosystem to support Puerto Rican manufacturers but are developing an engaged ecosystem of local manufacturers and help advance their technologies towards commercialization.”

The institute, a nonprofit public-private partnership between industry, academia, and government, recently announced a $1 million grant from the Department of Defense, through the Office of Naval Research, to support its activities on the Island. That followed an initial $1.9 million in funding from the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program, overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering announced in 2022.

“The presence of LIFT in our city represents a potential catalyst for the economic and technological development of Caguas and all of Puerto Rico,” said William Miranda Torres, Mayor of Caguas. “This institute plays a fundamental role in promoting innovation and research in the manufacturing of lightweight materials. Its collaborative approach between industry, academic institutions and government will create an enabling environment in our region to address technological challenges, accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies and improve the competitiveness of our local companies. In addition, it will contribute to the generation of specialized jobs, thus promoting a vibrant workforce.”

LIFT, celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, serves as a technology accelerator, working at the intersection of materials science, manufacturing processes, systems engineering and talent development to enhance the national economy and national security. This connection enables the institute, and its more than 340 organization ecosystem, to advance technologies – such as hypersonic materials development and lightweight armor systems – into commercial industry and into the hands of the warfighter quickly, all while preparing the workforce for the advanced manufacturing jobs available today and better preparing it for the jobs of the future.

Via this expansion, LIFT brings to Puerto Rico its technology program, Leading Innovations For Tomorrow, to coincide with its talent program, Learning Innovations For Tomorrow, which has been active on the Island for more than a year. Together, these initiatives showcase the “art of the possible” and the future of manufacturing, as well as a “sandbox,” in which the Institute’s national ecosystem can collaborate to design, test and prototype new materials, processes, and systems.

LIFT has been delivering Operation Next® since 2023 in Puerto Rico, an innovative training and credentialing program providing a blended learning curriculum to active-duty soldiers, National Guard and Reserve members, veterans, their families and civilians on the Island, enabling them to earn nationally portable, standards based, industry recognized credentials in high demand manufacturing fields.