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Connecting the Dots

An NCDIDI Newsletter | December 2021

Welcome to the December 2021 NCDIDI Newsletter

— Michael Mullins, Director NCDIDI, NC State Industry Expansion Solutions

On August 13, 2021, the Department of Defense’s Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) announced that the state of North Carolina was selected to receive the designation as one of five “Defense Manufacturing Communities” in the nation during FY2020.

On September 22, 2021, OLDCC awarded NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES) one of the five grants under the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program (DMCSP). The purpose of the DMCSP is to make long-term investments in critical skills, facilities, workforce development, research and development, and small business support to strengthen the national security innovation base. 

The vision of the North Carolina Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program (NC DMCSP) is an innovative and resilient defense industrial ecosystem for smart textiles in NC. To achieve its vision, the NC DMCSP is comprised of a growing number of organizations that include government, academia, manufacturing institutes, advocacy groups, manufacturers and innovators/entrepreneurs, with a goal of integrating and aligning efforts to support the ecosystem.

Our NC DMCSP partners are positioned to help small and medium-sized manufacturers become aware of, and explore the use of new technologies in their manufacturing processes. Such a digital transformation not only increases visibility and transparency in supply chains but also increases worker safety through semi or fully autonomous work cells, increases remote access to machines and monitoring systems, and expedites prototypes and testing of new designs or materials. Without a new approach to doing business, it is likely that long-term problems will be realized in some of the lower tiers of the defense industrial base, as smaller manufacturers struggle to remain competitive in a global economy, and amidst a myriad of potential threats (disruptions) to their business. 

The NC DMCSP Consortium consists of 18 partners that comprise five partnership organizations aligned to stated goals: Outreach and Advocacy, Manufacturing Innovation, Ideation, Entrepreneur and Commercialization and Workforce Development. This newsletter highlights the work of each group, providing details about specific roles and responsibilities.

Read the Official U.S. Department of Defense Statement »

Partners participating in the DMCSP include:

DMCSP Manufacturing Innovation

Dominick Stephenson, Assistant Director, Research Development & Evaluation, NC State Industry Expansion Solutions

DMCSP Manufacturing Innovation
The Manufacturing Innovation pillar of the NC DMCSP consists of Modernization and Workforce Development. As dual-use technologies in advanced and smart textiles emerge from the Product Innovation Pillar, the Manufacturing Innovation pillar will build awareness of the advancements in smart textiles manufacturing technology to produce these innovations at scale, in North Carolina. 

Partners, Wilson College of Textiles at NC State University, Textile Technology Center at Gaston College, Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence at NC A&T University, and Manufacturing Solutions Center at Catawba Valley Community College have access to equipment and expertise to accelerate prototyping and technology exploration. Used in tandem, these resources will spur adoption in the textiles defense industrial base by building capacity for advanced wearables and smart textiles to support the warfighter. 

NC State IES will provide support in manufacturing technology readiness assessments, coordination of demonstrations, and connections to other grant partners, such as the Manufacturing USA institutes (ARM, AFFOA, and MxD). 

To explore advancements in textiles’ product quality and consistency, a feasibility assessment on the application of Artificial Intelligence (data science and predictive analytics) on textile manufacturing equipment to control product quality will be explored with grant partner BLDG25. 

As emerging advanced manufacturing technologies for producing smart textiles emerge, the university and community college partners involved will coordinate training, degree, and career pathways for operators of cutting-edge machinery.

DMCSP Ideation

— Steve McManus, Innovation Advisor, RTI International

DMCSP Ideation
The goal of the Ideation Team is to identify relevant technology innovations and foster activities to deliver solutions to the DoD that will optimize warfighter health and performance. Key activities include:

  • Cultivating the textiles and wearables product innovation pipeline, ensuring that smart textile and wearables R&D makes its way to end markets and the warfighter;
  • Scouting and making connections with university and national labs involved in research and technology aligned to NCDMCSP priorities;
  • Conducting sponsored and joint research with DoD investigators and participants, and embedding experts with military units for research and/or training exercises to develop a mature knowledge of material and product applications;
  • Engaging service members in research at member labs and facilities, and send researchers and research tools to military bases for use by military partners;
  • Conducting testing and evaluation of technologies and solutions in concert with active military personnel (particularly from Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune); and
  • Providing rapid prototyping services with state-of-the-art electronics and smart textiles to produce prototypes for early validation.
  • Ideation Team members have wide-ranging expertise in health and performance optimization, textile and wearable device technology innovation, innovation management, and Department of Defense connections. Members include:
  • The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Institute (AFFOA) is a DoD-managed Manufacturing Innovation Institute, focused on development of smart and functional fabric technology to meet defense and commercial needs. 
  • The NCSU Wilson College of Textiles is the premier textile engineering program in the country, conducting broad research and development including smart textiles development.
  • The Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) Center at NCSU is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center that focuses on creating self-powered sensing, computing, and communication systems to enable data-driven insights for a smart and healthy world.
  • The Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network (MTIN), which consists of the Manufacturing Solutions Center (Conover, NC) and the Textile Technology Center (Belmont, NC) provides textile manufacturing expertise, training and equipment for developing new products as well as startup incubation facilities and services.
  • The North Carolina Center for Optimizing Military Performance (NC COMP), a consortium led by RTI International, focused on developing and commercializing solutions for warfighter health and performance optimization (including but not limited to smart textiles and wearable devices).
  • Emerging Technology Institute (ETI), a DoD technology development, testing and evaluation facility.
  • RTI Innovation Advisors, an innovation consulting practice serving commercial, Federal, and University clients. 

DMCSP Entrepreneurship and Commercialization

— Krista Covey, President, First Flight Venture Center, Research Triangle Park

DMCSP Entrepreneurship and Commercialization

First Flight propels early-stage science companies through the delivery of comprehensive resources and empowers innovators to transform good ideas into great successes. We use our Runway to Success to meet our companies where they are in their business life cycle to improve their probability of success.

We are excited to join IES on the grant as an Entrepreneurship and Commercialization partner. As part of this grant, we will be able to offer 5 cohorts of our Propeller program over 5 years, dedicated to participants working on smart textiles under the scope of the grant. Propeller is a 6-week entrepreneurial design thinking program which helps founders and entrepreneurs determine whether there is sufficient value to pursue a product or service idea. The program helps entrepreneurs identify potential markets and develop a path to market strategy. It also teaches entrepreneurs the language of business and how to communicate the value of the idea to potential customers, investors and partners.

Additionally, we will assist in the product development process by offering 12 complimentary 1-month memberships to Hangar6, our DIY rapid prototyping facility, for the first two years of the grant, and that number doubles to 24 memberships starting in year three. Hangar6 is a subscription-based program that provides access to advanced equipment and design assistance, helping lower the hurdles entrepreneurs face in the prototyping phase of their entrepreneurial journeys. 

We will also help high-potential impact companies with strategic planning and grant writing assistance to be able to put forth competitive SBIR/STTR applications to close the loop and help founders access valuable funding opportunities. All of these services are designed to help entrepreneurs successfully navigate the start-up landscape and establish a solid foundation for them to build their smart textile companies. 

We look forward to working with these entrepreneurs to help them take off and achieve commercial successes. First Flight Venture Center is proud to collaborate with the North Carolina Defense Industry Diversification Initiative on this opportunity. 

If you would like to be a part of this program and have an interest in working with small to medium companies as a mentor, please reach out to Emil Runge at Information on the First Flight Venture Center Navigator Program is located at


— Leressa Suber, Evaluation and Talent Development Specialist, NC State Industry Expansion Solutions

In June 2021, NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (NC State IES) and NC MEP became a sub-recipient of a Workforce Development Grant, led by Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), and funded by NextFlex. NC State IES along with additional partners NC State Wilson College of Textiles, Gaston College, and Catawba Valley Community College, will work together to address the current and next-generation textile and manufacturing workforce in North Carolina. The year-long grant begins with data gathering through a survey, demand and supply-side gap analysis, and employer convenings. The information gathered will help inform the current state of textiles across a 12- county region in NC (Catawba, Alexander, Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland, Iredell, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Alamance, Montgomery, Burke, and Randolph). An advisory board and taskforce has been organized to build partnerships and awareness of textiles, especially within underrepresented minority populations. A textile education pathway model and textile roadmap will be developed to strengthen the future state of textile manufacturing across North Carolina and beyond. A final report with best practices and lessons learned will be available June 2022.

Defense Alliance of North Carolina

— Tammy Everett, Executive Director, Defense Alliance of North Carolina

Defense Alliance of North Carolina

The Defense Alliance of North Carolina was created in August 2019 with the merger of two established organizations representing the broader Defense Community of North Carolina: the North Carolina Military Foundation (NCMF) and the North Carolina Defense Business Association (NCDBA). Each organization brought a rich history and significant capabilities to support the North Carolina Defense Industrial Base. 

About The Alliance

The Defense Alliance of North Carolina (DANC) is a private, nonprofit, organization focused on strengthening North Carolina’s defense sector and those who support it. 

Our Mission 

Grow North Carolina’s defense economy in a way that creates new long-term investment opportunities.

In February 2020, DANC completed its updated analysis of North Carolina’s Defense Assets and Industry Clusters. The study, the “North Carolina Defense Asset Inventory and Target Industry Cluster Analysis”, was funded by the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission with research and analysis conducted by RTI International and the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The team identified six Defense Department priority technology areas, and then analyzed North Carolina economic data, identified innovation assets and capabilities, and interviewed companies to identify barriers to expanding participation in the Defense Industrial Base. The six technology areas were:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Data and Knowledge Management
  • Human Performance
  • Materials
  • Power


DANC represents a unique resource to North Carolina. Its history has been founded on growing and strengthening the North Carolina defense industrial base. The Alliance combines the powerful leadership of distinguished military officers and industry executives, a large and active membership base, and an impressive set of standing forums and events to support North Carolina’s government, military, business, and academic communities.

Point of Contact

Tammy Everett
Executive Director (Interim)


NCMBC Introduction to Multiple Award Contract Vehicles (Virtual)
January 11, 2022 and June 28, 2022 | 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

These sessions will provide information about the government’s use of Multiple-Award, Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity contracts for supplies, services and construction.


Evolving Textiles Conference: Materializing the Future
March 16–17, 2022

The NC State Wilson College of Textiles will host the first annual Evolving Textiles Conference: Materializing the Future. The conference themes are circularity in textiles and alternative fibers.


IFAI / N.C. State Wilson College of Textiles Smart Fabrics Summit
Smart Fabrics Summit: Disruption, Innovation, and Getting ‘Back to the Future’

March 28–29, 2022

The Smart Fabrics Summit will bring together market segments that need to collaborate in order for the smart fabrics industry to meet its full potential and accelerate its development by U.S. manufacturers, spurring original thinking among public and private sector organizations on how new and existing policies affect future products.


NCMBC Defense Contractors Academy (Virtual)
April 26–May 19, 2022 (12 sessions) 

The Defense Contractor Academy hosted by the North Carolina Military Business Center will offer an intermediate-level of instruction to existing, small business defense contractors to provide the tools needed to grow the federal portion of their business portfolio.

NC Defense Industry Diversification Initiative (NCDIDI)

The State of North Carolina is home to a diverse military industry, with varied military and defense missions, needs and opportunities.

In a proactive response to changes in federal defense budgets, NCDIDI was created. The program has been managed through a partnership between NC State Industry Expansion Solutions and the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The intended goal is to help companies maximize their growth potential and cybersecurity resiliency and enhance their strategic development planning and sustainability efforts to see impact beyond NCDIDI the funding period.

This program is funded through a grant awarded by the United State Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation.