In this issue:
- Emerging Technology Fund Announced
- Stem Cell Ballot Language Gets Approved
- Enhanced ID Could Boost Economic Activity
- NAM Calls on Feds to Enact Health Care IT Measures
- Greenhouse Gases Go Underground
- Order Customized Pallet Trucks via the Internet
- Whirlpool Offers Family Friendly Technology
- Highlights of MMA’s Sizzling Spring Seminar Schedule
1. Emerging Technology Fund Announced
Governor Granholm announced at the beginning of February that $1.4 million in state matching funds is now available for Michigan companies that receive certain federal research grants.
The Emerging Technologies Fund (ETF) can be accessed by businesses receiving federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) research grants and that are in one of Michigan’s four “competitive-edge” technology areas under the 21st Century Jobs Fund: life sciences, alternative energy, homeland security/defense and advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials.
The ETF will match 25 percent of phase I SBIR/STTR awards up to $25,000 and 25 percent of phase II SBIR/STTR awards up to $125,000.
The ETF is taking applications and will continue to until the funds are exhausted. Applications will be accepted on the Michigan ETF Web site.
2. Stem Cell Ballot Language Gets Approved
Proponents of the initiative to get a measure on the November ballot that would amend Michigan’s Constitution to allow, “informed and voluntary donation of unneeded embryos produced in fertility clinics — embryos that would otherwise be destroyed,” received approval in February to begin collecting the roughly 380,000 signatures needed to place the proposal on the ballot.
In addition to allowing the donation of embryos, the proposed amendment would prohibit harvesting stem cells from the embryo more than 14 days from after division and it also would not allow the buying or selling of stem cells, based on reports from MIRS News.
The supporters have been careful to word the language in a fashion that emphasizes maintaining the state’s ban on cloning while reinforcing the possibility of “cures” that could result from allowing the donation of embryos.
The opposition has already launched a media campaign designed to kill the measure before it gains any more momentum.
3. Enhanced ID Could Boost Economic Activity
The Michigan Legislature approved measures last week that would allow the creation of an enhanced Michigan driver’s license so residents would be able to travel to Canada and Mexico without a passport, according to Gongwer.
The legislation allows Michigan to meet the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative but stops short of enacting the controversial federally-required REAL ID provisions, which Michigan doesn’t have to meet until 12/2009.
The enhanced driver’s licenses would contain radio chips and space for additional identifying information about a driver but ban the use of biometric data and require the state to protect individual privacy. More rigorous standards for what is necessary to obtain a driver’s license are also included in the measures.
On a related note, the House approved two bills that originated in the Senate that requires the Department of State to reject an application for personal identity cards if it believes the data in the application is not truthful and mandates that a state ID card has to expire on the date a person is no longer considered to be legally present in the United States.
The legislation for the enhanced identification cards is now headed to the governor for approval.
4. NAM Calls on Feds to Enact Health Care IT Measures
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called on the federal government this week to enact legislation to, “rapidly deploy health information technology (Health IT) to improve America’s health care system,” according to a NAM news release.
“Health IT would help America’s health care system conserve scarce resources, improve care and save lives,” said NAM president and CEO John Engler during a news conference this week. “The Rand Corporation reports that widespread, effective use of health information technology could save America $81 billion a year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that the adoption of electronic medical records could reduce health care spending by 30 percent. And yet, year after year, these efficiencies go unrealized.”
Recently Google announced it has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to begin transferring the medical records of patients who agree to participate in the initiative to a secure online Web site, which is believed to be the first step in proving the efficiencies of Health IT. The records would then be able to be amended by doctors without the need to transfer paperwork between offices and could be accessed by individuals at any time — streamlining the process, cutting costs and delivering better health care.
It’s no secret rising health care costs continue to eat away at manufacturers’ bottom lines and are one of the biggest challenges facing industry and its employees.
“Manufacturers are some of the most productive people in our country,” Engler added. “In the manufacturing economy, efficiency is critical to competitiveness. If manufacturers can use information technology to keep track of inventory and reduce waste on the shop floor, why can’t we use information technology to improve our nation’s health care system? There is too much on the line for politics as usual. We are here today as Democrats and Republicans to demand action this year on behalf of all Americans. We want to see a Health IT bill passed into law this year.”
5. Greenhouse Gases Go Underground
A new project near Gaylord is testing to see if carbon dioxide emissions from utilities, which are believed to be a contributing source to climate change, could be stored underground as opposed to being released into the atmosphere, according to the Great Lakes IT Report.
The initiative, which is part of the United States Department of Energy’s Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Phase II Project, has brought together representatives from industry, academia and government to test the potential for geologic sequestration (storing emissions deep underground).
“This sequestration field test by our Midwest partnership region serves as one of many ongoing nationwide tests to demonstrate the feasibility of permanently storing greenhouse gases,” said Jim Slutz, acting principal deputy assistant secretary for Fossil Energy, in a statement to the Great Lakes IT Report. “The success of each of these tests moves the nation’s carbon sequestration program another step closer to determining the processes best suited to address the overall issue of global warming.”
By the end of March, the program will have injected 10,000 tons of gas into the sequestration chambers under Gaylord. DTE Energy is the utility that has partnered with the other organizations for the project and is allowing the emissions from a natural gas processing plant, roughly eight miles from the storage site, to be transported for the test. Scientists will announce how the carbon dioxide responded to being stored deep underground at a yet-to-be determined time after the injections are completed in March.
Based on the initial research, formations throughout Michigan may contain enough capacity to store hundreds of years’ worth of current emission levels from large point sources of carbon dioxide in the state.
“For geologic sequestration to be successful, we will need to develop reliable, efficient and economic technologies to separate or, in other words, capture carbon dioxide from large fossil-fuel fired processes like those at power plants, steel mills, cement plants and other industrial operations,” said David Ball, with Battelle, a non-profit global leader in technology development and commercialization, and the project manager for the initiative. “Research is progressing in that area but economical capture technology is not ready for commercial application today.”
6. Order Customized Pallet Trucks via the Internet
Wesley International has developed a new online ordering system for custom-fabricated pallet, according to Materials Handling Management.
The online tool provides instant price quotes and estimated delivery dates for double fork, single fork, roll and reel and skid truck configurations with a few clicks of the mouse.
The ordering system can be accessed by visiting the Wesley International Web site.
7. Whirlpool Offers Family Friendly Technology
Whirlpool Corp. has recently introduced a free, online software service for families that allows users to sync schedules, to-do lists and photos and can be used as a messaging service, according to the Great Lakes IT Report. The new tool is available thanks a partnership between the Benton Harbor-based manufacturer and Cozi Group Inc., a Seattle-based software developer.
The Whirlpool edition of Cozi features a calendar that merges every family member’s schedule into one centralized location, a shopping and task list that allows users to call a toll-free number from any mobile phone to receive lists by text messages or by a computer operator, a message system so family members can send reminders and updates to one another and a photo collage screen saver where pictures from events can be stored and downloaded into the same place.
“We continually strive to create products to help consumers get more done each day,” said Melissa Wikman, marketing director for Whirlpool. “But we also know there are ways beyond appliances to help accomplish that goal. This is why we teamed up with Cozi — to bring consumers an all-in-one solution to help them organize their family life.”
The software is accessible from any computer or mobile phone with an Internet connection and can be downloaded for free from the Whirlpool Web site.
8. Highlights of MMA’s Sizzling Spring Seminar Schedule
MMA’s spring seminar schedule is full of exciting learning opportunities that can keep you “in the know” and positively impact on your business’ bottom line.
Several technology-related programming choices are back by popular demand:
- The “MMA Tool & Die Informational/Organization meeting” will help companies interested in taking advantage of the last Tool & Die Recovery Zone collaborative slot available learn more about the tax savings available and how the collaboratives operate. Representatives of companies interested in joining one of the five existing collaboratives MMA has helped to form during the last four years are also encouraged to attend.
This seminar that will teach you what is required to qualify for the collaborative, the necessary steps needed to complete a collaborative application and how MMA can help you in this process. Chuck Hadden, vice president of government affairs for MMA, Margaret O’Riley, a consultant for O’Riley Consulting, and Terry Lang and Carl Rachid, attorneys for Butzel Long, will be the featured speakers at the seminar to be held at MMA headquarters in Lansing on 3/26/08.
- “The Power of Lean” series is back due to popular demand. Sessions will be offered in at MMA headquarters in Lansing on important aspects of Lean methodology and incorporating Lean systems throughout your business: Lean Overview with Simulation, on 4/4/08; Value Stream Mapping, on 4/11/08; Lean Office with Simulation, on 4/18/08; and Workplace Organization (5S) Simulation, on 4/25/08.
For more information and to register for these seminars or the dozens of others MMA is offering, see the MMA Seminar Schedule or look for the brochure and e-mail notices in your in box. You may also contact LeAnn Hicks, MMA seminar and event coordinator, at 517-487-8557 or 800-253-9039 (press 9 and extension 557).