The National Defense Authorization Act conference report that passed the Senate on Dec. 17 includes Sen. Chris Coons', D-Delaware, bipartisan bill to eliminate a federal funding limit on the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, or NIIMBL, headquartered in Newark.

Currently slated to exhaust a stream of federal dollars after 2021, NIIMBL, under this legislation, could continually earn valuable federal funding, which to date has leveraged $129 million from industry. The bill, which passed the House on Dec. 11, now heads to the president's desk and is expected to become law this week.

NIIMBL supports industry-leading research with 130 members from industry, academic institutes, nonprofit organizations and states. The manufacturing hub, which could extend its $70 million federal grant from Coons' bill, connects local manufacturers to national resources to spur local innovation.

Many of the nation's top companies and universities in the biopharmaceutical field have organized through Delaware to develop vaccines, gene therapies and cancer drugs that aim to result in lifesaving cures and medical treatments. These innovations have the potential to save lives, as well as create new high-skill, high-paying jobs for Delawareans.

"It brings me great pride that Delawareans are leading the world in the development, testing, and production of medicines of the future," said Coons. "With this bill, and the vital federal funding opportunity it creates, Delaware's innovators will continue to not only save lives, but also create jobs for generations of high-skilled Delawareans who will manufacture these lifesaving drugs. Also, other states are empowered to follow Delaware's lead by forming new institutes specializing in other vital areas of manufacturing."

"Passage of this act continues our country's investment in U.S. advanced manufacturing competitiveness, supports our long-term leadership in innovation and also helps drive key activities in Delaware related to the bioeconomy," said Dennis Assanis, president of the University of Delaware. "This act will promote our nation's economic growth and lead to a more skilled biomanufacturing workforce."

Cosponsored by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; Gary Peters, D-Michigan; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota; and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act, or GLAM Act, was filed as an amendment to the NDAA. In addition to the support for NIIMBL, this legislation promotes the development of new Manufacturing USA institutes.

The Manufacturing USA program is a national network of 14 public-private partnership institutes with 1,300 member companies and institutions working to keep the U.S. on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing. The institutes have generated $2 billion in industry-matched funding to transition innovative technologies from lab to market and to expand the production of goods made in America.

The bill also embeds a liaison of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in each Manufacturing USA institute to assist with cybersecurity training, workforce development and technology transfer for small- and medium-sized manufacturers.