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 WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- President Clinton today announced that Minnesota Technology, Inc., will receive $2.395 million over three years to establish a Minnesota Consortium for Defense Conversion. The Consortium will support the ability of Minnesota's defense firms to develop new products and to compete in new commercial markets.
 The federal funds have been made available through the president's Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP), a federal effort to spark development of "dual-use" technologies that have both military and commercial application and to help small defense firms make the transition to commercial markets.
 To date, 245 of Minnesota's 1,100 defense-related firms have expressed interest in participating in the Consortium. These member companies will direct the Consortium, which will be operated by Minnesota Technology through its Upper Midwest Manufacturing Technology Center.
 The Consortium's main objectives are to:
 -- support a cultural change within U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supplier firms necessary to meet the changing demands of the commercial marketplace.
 -- assist defense firms in developing and marketing new commercial and dual-use products.
 -- improve electronic communications between Minnesota firms and the DoD.
 -- facilitate joint proposals, cooperative bidding, equipment sharing and collaborative training efforts among suppliers for commercial and defense purposes.
 -- increase defense contractors' access to technology resources to meet their needs.
 According to Jacques Koppel, president of Minnesota Technology, "the Consortium will become a member-driven organization -- meaning that members will decide how the funds are used. Minnesota Technology will provide them with the incentive and support they need to develop and provide services.
 "What makes this effort stand apart from others is that we're actually asking competing companies to sit down and work together to solve some serious problems facing their industry." Minnesota Technology's primary goal behind this project is to maintain and grow Minnesota's manufacturing capacity, Koppel said.
 The proposal was developed by a Defense Conversion Working Group, established by Minnesota Technology and comprising 20 primary defense contractors and subcontractors from both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. Based on Consortium member input, and the results of two surveys, the group found that the greatest need for assistance among Minnesota's defense contractors and subcontractors were in the areas of new product development, marketing and joint bidding/subcontracting.
 Lars Ossmo, co-owner of Premier Industries, Inc., a DoD subcontractor who participated in the Defense Conversion Working Group, believes the Consortium will be a great benefit to DoD suppliers throughout the state. "It's been very difficult for small DoD contractors like Premier Industries to make the conversion from defense to commercial markets, mostly because we don't have ready access to all of the resources needed to do it," Ossmo said. "Through improved communications and information sharing, this consortium will bridge that gap and make the transition much easier for all of us."
 Federal funds for this project will total $2.395 million over three years. Matching funds and in-kind services will be contributed by Minnesota Technology and Consortium members in the amount of $3.815 million over three years.
 Since the TRP was announced in March, competition for the $472 million in matching grants has elicited more than 2,800 proposals requesting a sum of $8.5 billion. A total of 55 proposals in 36 states received funding through today's second round of awards, which focused on the technology deployment category of the TRP.
 Minnesota Technology is a nonprofit corporation established to assist Minnesota companies in becoming more competitive. It is part of the state's strategy to strengthen its economy and preserve and increase jobs in Minnesota. Established in August 1992, the Upper Midwest Manufacturing Technology Center was formed through a cooperative agreement with Minnesota Technology and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
 -0- 11/24/93
 /CONTACT: Tammy Nystuen of Minnesota Technology, 612-338-7722/

CO: Minnesota Technology, Inc. ST: Minnesota IN: SU:

CP-DS -- MN013 -- 7791 11/24/93 17:27 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 24, 1993

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