Ford Advances Supplier Diversity With New Technology-Sharing and Innovation Initiative


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DETROIT, Oct. 1, 2008 - Ford Motor Company is launching a new initiative to assist minority- and women-owned business enterprises in developing innovative products and technical expertise. Under the program, called the Joint Technology Framework, Ford will provide designated suppliers special access to intellectual property assets so they can develop products for future commercial use.

"We need to support our minority- and women-owned suppliers in moving toward a business model that competes on technology, in addition to cost," said Tony Brown, Ford group vice president, Global Purchasing. "Under the Joint Technology Framework, we will work with our suppliers on innovating new products -- allowing them to attract the engineering talent and new sources of capital to migrate these technologies to the next level."

Ford is making the announcement in conjunction with a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition event. The group, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, is honoring Brown with the "Keep Hope Alive" award at its Ninth Annual Automotive Symposium Reception tonight at the Motor City Casino in Detroit. The theme for this year's symposium, which continues Thursday, is "The Role of the Diversity Strategy in the Global Automotive Industry."

Under the Joint Technology Framework, suppliers will have access to certain intellectual property from Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. Established in 1951, the group is tasked with anticipating automotive industry trends and requirements five to 10 years in the future, then developing solutions that can be incorporated into Ford products and processes. It currently has 12 areas of focus, spanning from powertrain to advanced modeling to environmental science and emissions.

Ford Research and Advanced Engineering accounts for more than one-third of Ford's intellectual property. In some cases, Ford provides outside entities, such as universities or other companies, a license to use patents Ford has developed. The Joint Technology Framework initiative puts in place a formal process in which minority- and women-owned enterprises will have access to specific product and process intellectual property that can directly benefit their businesses.

"The Research and Advanced Engineering group has been a tremendous asset to Ford Motor Company for nearly 60 years," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Ford's Chief Technical Officer and vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering. "We welcome the opportunity to share our technical expertise in ways that promote the development and growth of our diverse supply base."

Ford has identified an initial group of six minority and women-owned suppliers to launch Joint Technology Framework:

  -- Bing Group

Dakkota Integrated Systems

Flex-N-Gate

Gonzalez Production Systems

Grupo Antolin Wayne

Prime Wheel

These suppliers are members of Ford's Aligned Business Framework (ABF). The ABF program emphasizes stronger collaboration between Ford and its suppliers and provides greater opportunity for minority- and women-owned business enterprises to build scale, achieve profitable growth and become sustainable enterprises over the long term. The Joint Technology Framework is a key enabler to further delivering on our ABF commitments.

"ABF and our new joint technology initiative are consistent with our guiding One Ford philosophy of achieving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders," said Brown. "Suppliers are part of the Ford team, and with them we are working toward delivering on that goal."

Ford has a long history of leadership in supplier diversity. In 2007, Ford's North America unit purchased a record $4.2 billion in goods and services from tier one minority-owned suppliers and broke through the billion-dollar barrier with tier one women-owned suppliers by spending $1.2 billion.

The 2007 increase reflects continued efforts to sustain and grow production and non-production business with minority- and women-owned business enterprises within the company's base of strategic suppliers in the ABF.

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