Smart Manufacturing


In partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and in collaboration with Next Level Manufacturing Institute, we manage the Manufacturing Readiness Grants program to financially incentivize companies to adopt smart, innovative and emerging Industry 4.0 technologies.

New Funding Available July 1, 2021: Apply Now
Sample Application


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MILLION in grant funding awarded
MILLION+ in projected investment
Awards made

Indiana’s manufacturing industry is critical to the state’s economy and success. To ensure the industry retains its national leadership position and embraces advanced technologies, Conexus Indiana, in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and in collaboration with Next Level Manufacturing Institute, manages the Manufacturing Readiness Grant program.

This grant program was originally launched as part of the IEDC’s Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement (EASE) program and was extended through a new appropriation from the Indiana General Assembly. The program aims to stimulate private sector investments that will modernize Indiana’s manufacturing sector, positioning Hoosier operations, and the industry over all, for future growth and prosperity.


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Yes, a funding expansion for the program has been included in the 2022-2023 state budget at $10 million per year beginning July 1, 2021. As long as the “Apply Here” button leads to an active form allowing an application to be completed, then the State of Indiana is continuing to fund select applications.

Must be a manufacturer planning to make capital investment in the form of smart manufacturing technologies within their Indiana operation. While there is no size limitation for applicants, small- and medium-sized manufacturers (<500 employees) are heavily favored. The degree to which an applicant is a manufacturer (manufacturing intensity) and relationship to Indiana are also significant considerations.

Projects should directly affect manufacturing processes and focus on investments in commercial-ready equipment through established vendors. The equipment should be beyond ‘advanced’ in nature, i.e. more technologically intensive and broadly innovative than mere upgrades via standard automation, increased capacity, tighter tolerances, improved fabrication techniques, or other incremental improvements that are common for the applicant’s sector. Strong applications offer a detailed description for how the applicant is undertaking an initiative that will be transformative beyond the status quo for themselves and competitors. The equipment should credibly leverage technologies such as industrial internet of things (IIoT), sensor technology, COBOTS, additive manufacturing (3D printing), big data and analytics, cybersecurity, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), digital twin, advanced modeling, blockchain, autonomous robotics or vehicles, augmented, virtual or mixed reality, cloud computing, and advanced communications (5G, etc).

Applications must be submitted through this portal. Once submitted, the application will undergo a peer review process by a committee of volunteers. Each application will be reviewed by multiple committee members. These individual reviews are then aggregated together into a composite result to be discussed at the next regularly scheduled committee meeting. The outcome of committee discussion is a consensus for a funding recommendation offered to the IEDC. The IEDC takes the recommendation under advisement and performs further diligence before making a final funding decision. Conexus notifies the applicant once a decision is made.

There is no application deadline. Applications are processed in monthly cycles for as long as the program is funded by the State of Indiana. You should apply when you are ready and able to submit a strong, detailed, and compelling application. If you can complete a strong application prior to the end of the calendar month then do it. However, applications are rigorously reviewed, so it is much better to take the time necessary for a quality submission rather than rush a poor submission.
Yes, this page has a link to a sample application that is helpful for collecting and organizing information ahead of completing the formal application.

Applications progress through a consideration process in monthly steps with a few steps along the way. Applications received during a given calendar month enter peer review the following month. They are discussed in committee the month after that. And then the IEDC takes some time for final diligence and decision. A realistic expectation to hear results in 3-4 months.

Applications and their support materials are seen by Conexus staff, the IEDC, and the committee of volunteers who peer review the applications. The committee is comprised of a diverse, statewide, multi-sector and distinguished group of Conexus Smart Manufacturing Fellows. The fellows are subject matter experts on technology deployment within manufacturing environments. All are bound by confidentiality and comply with a policy for recusal in the event of conflict of interest.

The grant is intended to incentivize a project investment that would not otherwise happen but for the grant. The grant is not meant to be used for reimbursement of project expenditures incurred or committed prior to the date of application. The application should demonstrate how the project, either its scope or timeline, is significantly dependent upon or would be enabled/enhanced by the grant. Projects that can be immediately started and quickly executed pending an award are preferred.

Grant awards are structured as reimbursements. Upon receiving an award notification, the awardee enters into a simple incentive agreement. At that point, they are authorized to complete the project specified in their grant application. They use their own funds to complete the project and submit documentation (i.e. receipts or other proof of purchase) for reimbursement. Unless otherwise specified in an award notification, reimbursements are for half of the qualified submitted expenses and cannot exceed the award amount.

Grants can be any size up to a maximum of $200,000. They must be matched by the applicant on a minimum 1:1 basis. A project with a total budget of at least $400,000 would be required to secure a maximum $200,000 grant award. However, projects with a higher matching leverage, i.e. larger projects, are more favorable. Partial awards are also common. Several factors and criteria are considered in the application evaluation process and can affect the amount offered and/or matching percentage of a grant award. Very few projects receive $200,000.

If the projects relate to each other at all then it is advised that they be included in a single application. An application that demonstrates a breadth of innovation investment can be more compelling than one that is narrowly focused on a single project. And it is unlikely for more than one award to be granted to a single company.

The $200k maximum is per company. The intent is to make use of a limited pool of funds to assist as many manufacturers as possible with meaningful smart manufacturing initiatives. It is unlikely for more than one award to be granted to a single company, so repeat applications are discouraged.

Advanced manufacturing in Indiana is diverse in many ways, and this has been reflected with a wide variety of project opportunities that have been funded already to date. Each project will be evaluated on its own unique merits and context as described by the applicant within their application submission, which is encouraged to be as detailed and descriptive as possible.

Consider a few key differences between “advanced” and “smart” manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing is often thought of as the use of innovative technologies to improve processes, usually through automation, PLCs, controls and IT/OT systems for increased capacity and product quality. Smart manufacturing goes further to integrate digital technologies, like Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and analytics, and AI and machine learning, into company-wide operations and manufacturing processes. Outcomes of smart manufacturing are often increased production and flexibility/agility, real-time visibility into equipment performance, and responsiveness to customer demand. Smart manufacturing also leverages data to a high degree (with technologies like advanced sensors, IoT connectivity, embedded software, etc.) for outcomes like predictive maintenance, self-optimization of process improvements and increased production efficiencies. The grant program favors Industry 4.0/Smart Manufacturing/Digital Plant projects. “Advanced” investments will be considered if they are innovative and transformative beyond the status quo to a degree appropriate for the applicant and proportional to the ask.

Hardware investments are generally easier for the MRG program to financially support as proof of purchase orders, etc. are easy to obtain for reimbursement purposes. Software can also be supported as long as there is evidence that it’s true capital investment and is sufficiently smart manufacturing related. Keep in mind that great examples of smart manufacturing projects often include both software and hardware elements, and generally, the program prefers to support the hardware portion.

A grant award will be contingent upon an applicant entering into a “grant agreement” detailing full terms and conditions of the grant prior to any qualifying project expenditures occurring for which reimbursement will be sought. Some of the terms and conditions include:

  • Payment shall be made on a reimbursement basis upon submission of proof of expenditure;
  • Right of first refusal on purchased equipment so long as book value is above $5,000 using straight line 10-year depreciation;
  • Favored Nation pricing & Terms for at least 3 years for products produced using equipment;
  • Indiana would have prioritized capacity for production off of equipment; and
  • Subsidized equipment through this program will be ineligible for the HBI Tax Credit.

Awardees will be expected to participate in a case study upon successful conclusion of any project that receives grant funds. Conexus Indiana developed which are coordinated with and approved by awardees. The case studies highlight the awardee’s project outcomes to share best practices while increasing broad understanding of technology use cases in manufacturing and spur greater adoption across the state’s manufacturing base. Only non-proprietary information will be shared in the case study.


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Sample Application


Learn more about the grant recipients announced to date and the technology adoption projects they’ve undertaken with financial support.


Contact Mitch Landess, Vice President of Innovation and Digital Transformation, at Conexus Indiana.