San Antonio’s manufacturing sector is one of the local economy’s largest, with an annual economic impact of $40.5 billion, according to a 2016 report. But U.S. manufacturers are increasingly falling prey to cyberattacks.

Now a new cybersecurity institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio will be dedicated to thwarting those threats.

On Thursday, UTSA launched the Cyber Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a new $111 million federal research institute focusing on cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and creating manufacturing jobs. UTSA livestreamed an open ceremony for the institute on Thursday afternoon. 

The institute will focus on three areas of research and development: securing automation, securing the supply chain network, and building a national program for education and workforce development, according to a statement by UTSA. 

UTSA has assembled a team of 59 national laboratories, industry, nonprofit, and academic organizations to make the U.S. manufacturing sector more secure, said Howard Grimes, UTSA associate vice president and associate vice provost for institutional initiatives. Grimes is also CyManII’s chief executive officer.

“Together, we will share the mission to protect the nation’s supply chain, preserve its critical infrastructure, and boost its economy,” he said.

Members include three Department of Energy National Laboratories – the Idaho National Laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratories – four Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, and 24 universities.

“We need to be concerned about cybersecurity,” said Daniel Simmons, DOE assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Cybersecurity challenges are well known [and are a] challenge manufacturers are not likely going to be able to solve themselves. What we need is a collaborative effort, and that is really what put this team over the top, as in a collaboration of so many different groups all coming together to advance the cybersecurity of manufacturing.”

CyManII is the sixth national manufacturing innovation institute funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and the newest of 16 national Manufacturing USA network institutes funded by the Departments of Energy, Defense, and Commerce, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said during the launch event.

UTSA President Taylor Eighmy Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

CyManII is embracing bold goals over the next five years, Grimes said. Goals include saving U.S. manufacturers 4 percent of the total energy they used annually; to train and upskill 1 million current and future U.S. manufacturers; and for CyManII and the Department of Energy to lead a transformation in cyber-secure, energy-efficient manufacturing, he said.

CyManII will be located inside the National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) at UTSA. The NSCC works to connect federal agencies with businesses in San Antonio’s tech corridor. The NSCC will be co-located with UTSA’s School of Data Science and adjacent to a new home for the university’s College of Business. The institute will conduct administrative functions in the NSCC, according to the CyManII website.

Funding for the NSCC was secured in fall 2018, with UTSA formally launching the center in March 2019. Plans call for the NSCC to relocate to a new 80,000-square-foot facility east of the university’s Downtown Campus in the coming years. The NSCC will share the facility with UTSA’s new School of Data Science.

In addition to $70 million in federal funding, the institute will be supported by an additional $41 million in cost sharing funds from its partners, including UT System’s commitment of $10 million, bringing the total five-year investment to over $111 million. CyManII is funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and co-managed with the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at San Antonio is a San Antonio Report business member.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the National Security Collaboration Center’s correct square footage.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.