The Heartland Robotics Cluster was one of 21 finalists awarded a multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA). The $25 million of grant funding will be utilized to: develop an automation demo space and program for Nebraska manufacturers led by the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, grow the robotics engineering curriculum for undergraduate students, and build R&D robotic lab space at the UNL College of Engineering, create an automation fabrication lab managed by Northeast Community College, develop urban ag/robotics outreach and training by Metro Community College, expand the robotics makers space at Nebraska Innovation Studio, and increase technical assistance for robotic AgTech startups managed by The Combine.
Build Back Better Grant
Agriculture is the #1 industry
Manufacturing is the #2 industry
Nebraska is the third largest ag state based on cash receipts for all commodities ~$21.2B in 2021
Nebraska is ranked #1 in Commercial Cattle Production, Great Northern Bean Production, & Popcorn Production
Current Talent Development
Nebraska ranks #4 nationally for the number of high school and middle school teams (per student population) participating in two national robotic competitions (CREATE and VEX) and one international competition (FIRST).
Driving the Artificial Intelligence Revolution
In an article by Brookings in 2021, Lincoln, Nebraska was named in the top five smaller metro areas that have substantial AI activities relative to their size.
The Heartland Robotics Cluster's
Robotic Startups (AgTech)
Invest Nebraska and The Combine lead the charge on the Robotic Startups Pillar. The Combine, a program by Invest Nebraska, is an AgTech Incubator. The Combine has numerous robotic startups within the AgTech industry.
Nebraska Innovation Studio, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Northeast Community College, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Engineering will build advanced infrastructure and R&D.
Community & Governance
Metropolitan Community College and Northeast Community College will do outreach with underserved communities and organizations. Invest Nebraska will be responsible for the governance of the Heartland Robotics Cluster.
The Heartland Industry Advisory Council is made up of the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Nebraska Manufacturers & Robotic Startups.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering, Metropolitan Community College, and Northeast Community College are adding curriculum and facilities to increase the workforce in robotics.