IMEC’s Future of Illinois Manufacturing report highlights the significant change and opportunity ahead for Illinois manufacturers. This grant program is designed to engage university and community college faculty to advance the understanding and the application of innovative solutions for Illinois small and mid-sized manufacturers (defined as 500 employees or less). Funding is available for up to $50,000 per project.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Automation/ technology (Examples: AI, robotics, cybersecurity)
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion
  • Operational excellence
  • Supply chain
  • Workforce development

Successful submissions will clearly articulate the importance and practical benefits of the proposed project for small and mid-sized Illinois manufacturers. Project outcomes are required and may include applied research, content, white papers, projects, education and service development, and events, among other solutions.

Grant Overview

  • Eligible applicants are faculty at Illinois public and private universities and community colleges in any discipline
  • Up to $50,000 funding for each project with required 1:1 non-federal match
  • Projects and activities must be Illinois based
  • Funding cannot be used for expenditures prior to the award
  • Projects must be completed by December 31, 2022


  • March 1 – April 15, 2022: Applications accepted
  • April 15- 30, 2022: Review/selection with input from IMEC Board of Directors (industry leaders)
  • May 2022: Award/Contracting
  • June – November 2022: Contract performance period

Reporting Requirements

  • September 30, 2022: Progress report and interim invoice due
  • End of November 2022: Final presentations
  • December 15, 2022: Final report and invoice due

Scoring Criteria

  • Project addresses a clearly defined and applied need for manufacturing
  • Overall proposal clarity with project outputs
  • Likelihood of success
  • Impact surveys with companies
  • Scalability of the proposed approach
  • Potential for future collaboration with IMEC
  • Qualifications of participants

Proposal Requirements

Provide a Word or PDF document, single-spaced with 12-point font that includes the following:

  • Cover page (must include project name and lead contact information)
  • Executive summary (no more than 250 words)
  • Clearly outline purpose of the project and relevance for small and mid-sized manufacturers (defined as 500 employees or less)
  • Project description (not to exceed 2 pages)
  • Scope of Work (not to exceed 1 page)
  • Describe potential for future work and sources of follow-up funding (no more than one-half page)
  • Team bios (no more than one-half page per team member)
  • Budget justification (no more than one page)
  • Completed Budget on THIS FORM
  • Budget justification (no more than one page)

Submit Your Application

For questions or to submit your application please email foimgrant@imec.org.