The grant is intended to advance the region as an economic leader by bringing together the university, the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP), and other key stakeholders to support technology-driven skills development, develop existing and future talent through training and retraining programs, and ensure that regional manufacturing companies remain competitive in the global economy.
To that end, the funding will support the formation of the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network, which will work to build and connect cutting-edge expertise, technologies, workforce development programs, and innovation-based facilities in the South Bend-Elkhart region. Initiatives and activities to be supported by LIFT include iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame, a hub of interdisciplinary teaching, applied research, and expertise in next-generation manufacturing, data analytics, and materials science; the scaling of innovation-based research and development; the development of applied learning programs for regional K-12 schools and colleges; and the creation of a LIFT Catalyst Fund that will awards grant to regional nonprofit organizations and educators, with the goal of spurring innovation in emerging market sectors.
The latest in a line of regional community and economic development initiatives supported by the endowment, the LIFT Network emerged in 2018 from a series of community efforts funded by a planning grant to SBERP.
"The South Bend-Elkhart region has important core strengths, including Notre Dame's extraordinary educational and research capabilities; a strong industrial base, especially the companies and talented employees in the area's exceptional mobility cluster; and compelling opportunities in diversified sectors such as IT and data analytics," said Lilly Endowment vice president for community development Rob Smith. "The LIFT Network will connect and strengthen these assets in ways that will help enhance the quality of life for the people in the region."