The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is partnering with other Southeastern universities in a coalition exploring methods for driving U.S. economic competitiveness. The initiative is supported by a two-year, Type 1 Development Award worth $1 million, funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines. The team was one of only 44 out of 497 Type-1 applications the NSF funded, marking the first time the NSF has distributed Regional Innovation Engines grants.
Thomas Goldsby, Dee and Jimmy Haslam Chair in Logistics at UT’s Haslam College of Business Department of Supply Chain Management, is the college’s representative on the multi-university research team that received the grant. The UT team includes researchers and faculty from the Tickle College of Engineering, as well as leadership from the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development. External partners include the University of Kentucky, the grant’s lead, the University of Louisville, Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University, which are core partners on the project.
About the GAME Change Team
The research team’s mission is establishing a coalition to “Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change)” in Tennessee and Kentucky’s Southeastern Commerce Corridor (SCC). The idea is to create a diverse innovation and talent development hub that secures U.S. competitiveness in next-generation manufacturing (NGM) and supply chain logistics, supports closed-cycle manufacturing to reduce waste and increases efficiencies for self-sustaining economic growth. The GAME Change team hopes to make the SCC a global leader in the aforementioned areas by 2034.
“I am thrilled and excited to be part of a unique, multifaceted research team focused on producing solution-oriented research,” Goldsby said. “We want to help streamline and green the region’s supply chain and pave the way for creating a prosperous innovation ecosystem.”
Haslam’s Important Coalition Role
Along with Fazleena Badurdeen of the University of Kentucky’s Pigman College of Engineering, Goldsby will head the “Supply Chain Innovation” track of the project. It will concentrate on use-inspired research to assist in establishing greater connectivity and economic resiliency in the Appalachian region defined by the I-65 and I-75 thoroughfares and the high-growth centers of Lexington, Louisville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville.
“An initial focus of the effort will be to deliver solutions for the burgeoning electric vehicle and electric vehicle battery production taking place in the I-75 and I-65 corridors of Kentucky and Tennessee,” Goldsby said. "And that is just one area we will address. We anticipate examining a variety of manufacturing environments in this research."
John Bell, head of the supply chain management department, Daniel and Karen Myers Faculty Scholar, Nancy and David McKinney Faculty Research Fellow and Gerald T. Neidert Professor, praised Goldsby’s work on the project proposal.
“To win this NSF development award is a major achievement,” Bell said. “We are proud of Tom’s work in bringing to life a project that will lead the SCC into the future. No one is better suited than Tom to support this effort, and he has the department’s full support in this initiative. We will assist him in any way we can as he pursues this impactful research.”
Stephen L. Mangum, dean of Haslam and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair, said, “Haslam is honored to contribute to UT’s work with other institutions in finding collaborative solutions to issues important to our regional community. Haslam faculty regularly work with businesses and governments to solve important problems. We are excited to see the results of Tom Goldsby’s participation in this critical, use-focused research.”
Future Significant Opportunities with NSF
The NSF Type 1 award — officially titled, “NSF Engines Development Award: Advancing carbon centric circular economy technologies for advanced manufacturing solutions (KY, TN)” — is funded from 2023 to 2025. If the project is successful, Goldsby says the team will seek a multimillion-dollar, multi-year extension. The Type-2 Engine grant is slated to be $160M, the largest ever awarded by NSF.
About Haslam’s Department of Supply Chain Management
The Haslam College of Business has one of the most comprehensive, forward-thinking and highly regarded supply chain management programs in the world. U.S. News & World Report and Gartner consistently rank Haslam’s supply chain program among the global top five. An advisory board of more than 40 industry professionals informs its curriculum, and students develop applied skills to help improve organizational performance through supply chain management.
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, email@example.com