The Director shall establish within the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership under section 278k of this title and section 278l of this title a program of competitive awards among participants described in subsection (b) of this section for the purposes described in subsection (c).
Participants receiving awards under this section shall be Centers, or a consortium of Centers.
(c) Purpose, themes, and reimbursement (1) Purpose
The purpose of the program established under subsection (a) is to add capabilities to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, including the development of projects to solve new or emerging manufacturing problems as determined by the Director, in consultation with the Director of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the MEP Advisory Board, other Federal agencies, and small and medium-sized manufacturers.
The Director may identify 1 or more themes for a competition carried out under this section, which may vary from year to year, as the Director considers appropriate after assessing the needs of manufacturers and the success of previous competitions.
Centers may be reimbursed for costs incurred by the Centers under this section.
Applications for awards under this section shall be submitted in such manner, at such time, and containing such information as the Director shall require in consultation with the MEP Advisory Board.
(e) Selection (1) Peer review and competitively awarded
The Director shall ensure that awards under this section are peer reviewed and competitively awarded.
(2) Geographic diversity
The Director shall endeavor to have broad geographic diversity among selected proposals.
The Director shall select applications to receive awards that the Director determines will achieve 1 or more of the following:
(A) Improve the competitiveness of industries in the region in which the Center or Centers are located.
(B) Create jobs or train newly hired employees.
(C) Promote the transfer and commercialization of research and technology from institutions of higher education, national laboratories or other federally funded research programs, and nonprofit research institutes.
(D) Recruit a diverse manufacturing workforce, including through outreach to underrepresented populations, including individuals identified in section 1885a or section 1885b of title 42.
(E) Such other result as the Director determines will advance the objective set forth in section 278k(c) of this title or in section 278l of this title.
(f) Program Contribution
Recipients of awards under this section shall not be required to provide a matching contribution.
(g) Global marketplace projects
In making an award under this section, the Director, in consultation with the MEP Advisory Board and the Secretary, may take into consideration whether an application has significant potential for enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized United States manufacturers in the global marketplace.
The duration of an award under this section shall be for not more than 3 years.
The terms used in this section have the meanings given the terms in section 278k of this title.
PRIOR PROVISIONS Provisions similar to this section were contained in section 278k(f) of this title, prior to the general amendment of section 278k by Pub. L. 114–329.
15 U.S.C. § 278k-1 (2018)