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Binghamton’s NSF Engine wins up to $160 million for energy storage

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
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The Story

Up to $160 million is on the way to the Southern Tier to support the Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine.

A coalition led by Binghamton University has won the National Science Foundation’s Regional “Innovation Engines” Competition, with a formal announcement expected Monday.

NSF Engines will invest $15 million up front and up to $160 million over the life of the program. The federal funding will support research in battery development and manufacturing in the Southern Tier and Upstate New York.

The coalition includes partners in 27 different upstate counties, with Binghamton joined by Cornell University, RIT and Syracuse University, among others. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the funding will create a “booming battery research hub” led by Binghamton University.

“Thanks to my CHIPS & Science Law, Binghamton will be the beating electric heart of federal efforts to help bring battery innovation and development back from overseas to spark growth of this critical industry vital to our nation’s national and economic security,” said Schumer. “With the prestigious NSF Engines award, the Southern Tier and Upstate NY has officially secured its place as the next loop on America’s battery belt.”

Why did Binghamton-led project win NSF Engines competition?

Over 100 hopefuls initially applied to the NSF Engines competition, which aims to aims to bolster American innovation in critical technologies like batteries, semiconductors, AI and biotechnology while stimulating economic growth and job creation across regional “innovation ecosystems.”

Binghamton’s proposal was named among 16 finalists in August, followed by a campus visit to assess the project’s potential.

Funding for each NSF Engine may span 10 years. Projects will be measured annually, with funding levels contingent on the Engine’s progress.

Binghamton has already generated momentum in the battery industry. The university’s New Energy New York coalition won the Build Back Better Regional Challenge in September 2022, securing nearly $114 million in federal and state investment to create a national hub for battery research and manufacturing. NENY was also named a federal Tech Hub for battery innovation in 2023.

Schumer said the NSF Engines funding is the “crown jewel” that will “help fuel the scientific discovery and innovation to ensure this industry is here to stay in America.”

“Lightning has struck not once, not twice but three times to supercharge Binghamton and the NENY coalition as best in class to grow cutting edge research in America’s battery industry,” said Schumer. “For years I have worked to craft and lead to passage these new programs to spur economic development, create good paying jobs, and spark scientific innovation, specifically with places like Binghamton and Upstate NY in mind.”

How will the NSF Engines funding impact the Southern Tier?

The NSF Engine will look to build on Binghamton’s existing efforts, while catalyzing new initiatives “focused on strengthening the battery supply chain, accelerating the transfer of battery technologies from lab to market, mobilizing resources around use-inspired R&D to complement battery manufacturing initiatives, and growing cross-sector partnerships.”

Binghamton Distinguished Professor M. Stanley Whittingham will serve as Engine Chief Innovation Officer. Whittingham was the 2019 Nobel Laureate for his role in the invention of the lithium-ion battery.

“Establishing a battery and energy storage Engine here in upstate New York is a crucial step to bringing domestic production of batteries and a secure supply chain to the U.S.,” said Whittingham. “It is critically important that battery innovations stemming from university and industry researchers can be developed, prototyped and manufactured in the U.S. in order ​to leap frog today’s Asian technology.

“With Senator Schumer’s continued support, we are confident we can transform our region, attract investment, create new jobs and fill those jobs with a skilled workforce.”

While Binghamton will be the research hub, other partners include NY-BESTLaunch NY and private-sector companies.

“We have all of the right academic and research collaborators on board, we are partnered with major industries as well as small businesses, and our ecosystem is diverse,” said Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger. “This is what the NSF Engines program is all about. Of course, we want to thank Senator Schumer for his vision, leadership, and support for Binghamton University and the entire NENY coalition.”

Full story: Binghamton’s NSF Engine wins up to $160 million for energy storage

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