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New Consortium Funded to Strategize Wireless Innovation and Economic Development in the Midwest

The University of Notre Dame and a group of over twenty partners have been selected for a Strategy Development Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program. This grant will establish the Midwest Wireless Innovation Strategy Development Consortium, led by the Wireless Institute in the College of Engineering at Notre Dame.

The rapid evolution of wireless technologies and networked systems has brought many opportunities for transformative applications across various domains, including smart cities, transportation, distance learning, and healthcare. The Consortium will act as a catalyst for translating university research into wireless intellectual property, new products and businesses, and high-tech jobs that can contribute significantly to regional economic development. Key technology focus areas for the Consortium include advanced communications technology, immersive technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, data management, distributed ledger technologies, and cybersecurity.

Specific technology and application areas to be commercialized include:

  • Power-Efficient Upper Midband and Millimeter Wave Transceiver Technologies for 5G / 6G / NextG. Commercialize transceiver chips and antennas based upon novel, low-power radio architectures for higher frequencies. These innovations will reduce costs and also the energy footprint of wireless communication networks, and enable practical use of these additional frequencies. Infrastructure will include RF development and testing laboratories as well as technical staff. Target outcomes will include intellectual property, technology licenses, and startup companies. The consortium is uniquely positioned to lead such an effort because of its ongoing collaborations in research and technology development.
  • Private Wireless Network Deployments and Optimizations for New Applications. Apply the latest wireless network technologies (4G/5G/CBRS/WiFi) to new domains, helping optimize end-to-end performance for novel applications and contributing to standardization efforts. Infrastructure will include network testbeds and staff to accelerate integration, testing, and optimizations. Target outcomes will include a consulting firm advising on network deployments and startups piloting new connected devices and applications.
  • Spectrum Sharing Technology and Policy. Collect the latest tools and technologies for monitoring utilization and performance of spectrum-dependent systems, enable the creation of new tools, and curation of data sets to optimize systems and inform spectrum policy. Infrastructure will include large-scale data repositories, measurement equipment, and engineering and policy staff. Target outcomes will include a consulting firm and startups developing new spectrum sensing, data services, and management technologies.

The Consortium’s target geography is centered around the South Bend–Elkhart–Mishawaka Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which extends across multiple counties in Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. Expansion of the target geography will be pursued westward into the Michigan City-LaPorte MSA and the Chicago-Naperville CSA. This region, characterized by its strong economic foundation in manufacturing, is poised to leverage advanced wireless technologies to create new job opportunities, drive economic growth, and enhance regional competitiveness. 

The City of South Bend, as both a What Works Cities Gold City and a Digital Equity Trail Blazer City, is committed to wireless innovation as a means to future-proof its infrastructure and engage a growing, upskilling workforce. As a self-proclaimed “Beta City,” South Bend is a committed cross-sector partner in innovation. In addition to testing new, relevant technologies, the City is committed to helping steer the strategy of this consortium and making the region an engine for wireless progress.

The South Bend – Elkhart Region encompasses 47 Smart Connected Communities across Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties in Northern Indiana and Berrien and Cass counties in Southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart region has a variety of economic, demographic, and quality of place assets. The region’s key strengths include: many existing place-based assets, a competitive cost structure, market access, higher education resources, and cultural diversity. Innovation Districts are emerging throughout the region, and leaders are exploring additional place-based development opportunities in their communities.

The Consortium already includes a diverse group of academic institutions, government entities, industry firms, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce development organizations. These partners are united in their commitment to driving innovation, job creation, and economic prosperity in the region. The Consortium members include:

Institutions of Higher Education (4): 

Government entities (2): 

Industry and other firms (11): 

Economic development organizations (2)

Labor & workforce development organizations (2): 

The Strategy Development Grant is a remarkable opportunity to unlock the potential of wireless technology for the benefit of the entire region. By harnessing the collective expertise and resources of its diverse members, the Midwest Wireless Innovation Strategy Development Consortium is firmly committed to shaping the future of wireless innovation and fostering a more connected and prosperous Midwest.

About the EDA Tech Hubs Program: The EDA Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs Program is a visionary initiative directly investing in regions with the assets, resources, capacity, and potential to evolve into globally competitive innovation centers over the next decade. Simultaneously, it seeks to create quality employment opportunities for American workers across all skill levels in an equitable and inclusive manner.

This groundbreaking program was established as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, authorized with a $10 billion budget over five years. As part of the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress has allocated $500 million to launch the program. The program specifically targets U.S. regions that focus on technologies within or across the key technology areas outlined in the statute.