BMW and South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance Host Inaugural Innovation Day
Manufacturing innovations were on display at the event, featuring research partnerships between industry, academia, and Fraunhofer USA
(Greer, SC) On June 22nd, BMW Manufacturing and the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness (the Council), with support from Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA) hosted the first “SCFUSA Innovation Day” to highlight the research being completed as part of the SC Fraunhofer USA Alliance (SCFUSA), an initiative of the Council, and recognize the advancements in automation and technology at BMW Spartanburg.
June 23rd, 2021 marks the 29th anniversary of BMW’s presence in the Palmetto State.
The event featured remarks by Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce at the SC Department of Commerce. Hitt recalled to the 100 invited guests his memories of the early days at BMW Spartanburg and noted that from the beginning, a spirit of collaboration and innovation was the determining factor in BMW’s growth and success in SC. As Secretary of Commerce since 2011, Hitt has led the state’s economic development efforts with the collaborative mission of “Team SC.”
The SC Fraunhofer USA Alliance, a partnership between the SC Department of Commerce and Fraunhofer USA, led by the SC Council on Competitiveness, is an example of that collaboration in action. SCFUSA matches SC companies with the state’s leading research universities and colleges, together with Fraunhofer USA expertise and matching funds from SC Department of Commerce in order to advance innovation in the state and make SC more competitive worldwide.
BMW Manufacturing President and CEO, Knudt Flor, who also sits on the SCFUSA Review Board, was eager to host this first-ever “SCFUSA Innovation Day” event at BMW. “BMW’s history is one of innovation and adopting new technologies to provide a superior product for our customers,” he remarked. “Our partnership with SCFUSA is an extension of this commitment to innovation and we’re looking forward to sharing some of our experiences.”
Guests were given tours of BMW’s manufacturing facilities, seeing not only the high-quality production site – the largest BMW manufacturer worldwide – but also new innovations being rolled out on the plant floor. Tour stops included new technologies like the SCFUSA/Clemson CU-ICAR wearable, sensor-equipped inspection glove that alerts the assembly associate to proper valve attachment (and more), augmented reality training platforms, predictive maintenance, visual inspection systems, and much more.
“We believe that embracing innovation is more important than ever,” says Susie Shannon, President, and CEO of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. “We hope that this event inspires attendees with real-world applications and promotes innovation amongst our state business leaders as they navigate a challenging but opportunistic landscape.”
The Council team hopes that this will be the first of many “SCFUSA Innovation Days” for the state. For more information about the SC Fraunhofer USA Alliance, visit the Council website, www.sccompetes.org.
About SC Fraunhofer USA Alliance
The South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance (SCFUSA) is a collaborative effort between The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness (The Council), the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Fraunhofer USA network. The alliance was created to advance applied research in engineering and technology across the state of South Carolina with the Fraunhofer USA network and South Carolina research institutions. The work of the alliance and the research it supports strive to give South Carolina a competitive edge in advancing applied research and innovation that can move the industry forward.
About The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness
The Council is a nonpartisan, business-led non-profit organization committed to advancing the long-term economic competitiveness of our state, industries, and citizens. Our work is accomplished through actionable research on opportunities and threats to South Carolina’s competitiveness; support of industry clusters that provide South Carolina a competitive advantage; and education and workforce development initiatives that ensure all South Carolina’s citizens are equipped to compete in a global economy. We execute our work through partnerships recognizing that our state’s economic success is secured through sustained collaboration among the private, public, academic and non-profit sectors. For more information, visit www.sccompetes.org.