BLOOMINGTON - The Applied Research Institute, which connects the state's top military, industry and higher education assets and leaders, has taken its first major steps. The ARI board, comprised of big names like Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and Rolls-Royce North America Defense Aerospace President Phil Burkholder, has approved its first major project. Over the next two years, $3.5 million will go toward the development of so-called trusted microelectronics, found in most electronic devices and designed to be immune to hardware and software-based attacks and be resistant to counterfeiting.

Energy Systems Network Chief Executive Officer Paul Mitchell, who has coordinated the ARI's formation, says the institute will focus on "key, underlying technologies" that will have an impact on the state's defense and commercial sectors. These technologies include the aforementioned trusted microelectronics, multi-spectral data fusion and security, high-density power storage and management and advanced material science. The institute says it helps streamline access to over $1 billion in laboratories, equipment and research facilities at partners such as the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indiana University, Purdue University and the Battery Innovation Center.

The southwest central-based institute is funded through a $16.2 million startup grant in late-2015 from the Lilly Endowment Inc. that was administered by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership's CICP Foundation Inc. The funding was part of a series of grants totaling $42 million by the Lilly Endowment that included support for the ARI's formation, the launch of Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. in Monroe County and the study of potential development of a Rural Center at Indiana University.

In addition to Holcomb, McRobbie, Daniels and Burkholder, the board includes Retired U.S. Air Force General Gene Renuart, who serves as chairman, Bloomington-based Cook Group Chairman Steve Ferguson, Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center Technical Director Brett Seidle and Bloomington-based Tsuchiya Group North America CEO Melanie Walker. Lilly Endowment CEO Clay Robbins says the endowment is "most pleased that ARI has assembled a board of directors of this caliber and distinction. Their leadership should ensure a successful launch for ARI."