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Blog Category: NNMI

Manufacturing Innovation: Gaining the Advantage In a Fiercely Competitive Global Economy

Manufacturing Innovation: Gaining the Advantage In a Fiercely Competitive Global Economy

Guest blog post by Mike Molnar, Director, Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office and NIST Advanced Manufacturing Program Office 

Good ideas—for new products, new processes, or new services—are terrible things to waste.

Yet, time and time again, inventions and discoveries that first sprouted in the U.S. have taken root in the factories and economies of other nations. Think of computer-controlled machine tools, solar cells, industrial robots, consumer-electronics devices, lithium-ion batteries . . .

To many, the list is painfully familiar. And the costs are too: lost jobs, shuttered manufacturing plants, withering supply chains, trade deficits, lost opportunities for spin-off technologies, and more.

But wait, a far better story for U.S. manufacturing is beginning to take shape.  Over the past five years, U.S. manufacturers have added an average of nearly 15,000 new jobs every month, and exports have grown at an average annual rate of 10 percent—or more than three times faster than the average for the preceding decade.

And now, U.S. industry and the federal government are taking deliberate strides to seize and maintain an innovation advantage in the fiercely competitive global economy. One key step is the establishment of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), accomplished with the inclusion of the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act in the government funding bill passed by Congress last December.

This young partnership, consisting of regional hubs of manufacturing innovation, is devoted to the economy- growing principle that if a technology is invented in the U.S., we should do our very best to make it here.  The NNMI institutes will leverage the individual and collective knowledge, talents, capabilities, and resources of industry, university, and government partners. These collaborations will cultivate promising discoveries and ideas into new technologies and into cost-effective ways to convert these innovations into American-made products sold to customers around the world.

There’s no time to waste. The competition has a head start. China, Korea, Germany, Taiwan, and other nations intent on building innovation-driven economies already have mounted major programs and the supporting infrastructure to sustain long-term collaborations—the kind required to speed research breakthroughs into proofs of concept, then prototypes, and, ultimately, manufacturable products and related services.

FY 2016 Budget Request Prioritizes Innovation

FY 2016 Budget Request Prioritizes Innovation

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker released the U.S. Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2016 budget request. The FY 2016 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity that will benefit all Americans. The budget includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities, including promoting trade and investment, fueling our data-driven economy, and spurring innovation. 

The U.S. Commerce Department plays a critical role in promoting U.S. economic growth and providing vital scientific and environmental information. The FY16 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation.  
 
Manufacturing is critical to innovation since it creates new growth industries, jobs and strengthens our economy. The budget supports the expansion of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) with up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes across the nation. In total, the budget includes discretionary funding for seven new institutes, including $140 million for the first two Commerce-led institutes, and an additional $1.9 billion mandatory proposal to fulfill the President’s vision. NNMI has kept America on the front-lines of discovery, which has resulted in our businesses, our manufacturers, and the American economy globally competition in the 21stcentury economy.
 
The budget also invests in the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support innovative economic development planning, regional capacity building, and capital projects, which includes the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. This program promotes economic development projects that spur entrepreneurship and innovation at the regional level, which has resulted in the establishment of proof-of-concept centers that foster the rapid commercialization of research and startup creation; The feasibility and planning of new research parks where academic and industry can collaborate; and Providing technical assistance for regions wanting to establish seed-capital funding programs for startups.
 
Additionally, the budget provides $49 million for NTIA, which is a demonstration of the Administration’s continued commitment to broadband telecommunications as a driver of economic development, job creation, technological innovation, and enhanced public safety. The President’s broadband vision of freeing up 500 MHz of Federal spectrum, promoting broadband competition in communities throughout the country, and connecting over 99 percent of schools to high-speed broadband connections through the ConnectED initiative will create thousands of quality jobs and ensure that students have access to the best educational tools available.
 
Lastly, through the implementation of the America Invents Act, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continues to make it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting ideas into new products and new jobs. The budget allows USPTO to fund operations and to further implement administrative actions proposed by the President’s Patent Task Force. The USPTO offers countless resources such as, the Track One Prioritized Examination Program, which allows small businesses to get a final disposition within about twelve months.
 
Learn more about the fiscal year 2016 budget request and the many ways it supports the Department of Commerce’s mission.

Commerce Efforts Featured Prominently in President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Last night, the American people heard President Obama deliver a strong and clear message in his State of the Union address: that America’s resurgence is real. In his sixth address to Congress, he noted  that the economy is in the best shape since before the Great Recession. Thanks to the hard work of America’s businesses and workers – and the tough decisions made by the Administration the economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. The unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis, GDP is rising, exports are at a record high and the United States is outpacing its competitors across the globe. That news is to be celebrated, but there is more work to be done. The task now is to build on this foundation of progress; to continue a sustainable, real and lasting recovery for all Americans. 

To ensure that America continues to be the number one economy in the world, the President outlined a strong trade agenda. Pursuing new trade agreements is essential to creating more jobs, strengthening our competitiveness, and spurring our prosperity. 95 percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S.’s borders, an opportunity that no company would or should ignore. With new trade agreements, new markets will be opened to U.S. products, helping U.S. businesses reach more customers. In today’s global economy, the country’s prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and consumers beyond our borders.
 
Being able to meet the needs of millions of new customers requires the United States continue to invest in advanced manufacturing. After a decade of decline, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s and poised for increased growth in the years ahead. President Obama announced he will build on recent bipartisan legislation to strengthen manufacturing by expanding on the eight National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes already created to complete 15 Institutes by the end of his term. That puts the United States on pace for 45 institutes in the next decade. The President also highlighted a new $10 billion public-private American Made Scale-Up Fund for manufacturing start-ups, ensuring that what is invented in America can be made in America.
 

President Obama Announces $400M for Manufacturing Hubs and Skills Training

This week President Obama made some major announcements that will help create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

Specifically, President Obama launched two new competitions for manufacturing and innovation institutes, one in smart manufacturing at the Department of Energy, and one in flexible hybrid electronics at the Department of Defense. Each institute will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector, for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

This announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action. These institutes are critical to ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership in innovation.

The Department of Commerce is committed to the President’s vision of creating a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes over the next 10 years, which will require Congress to pass legislation. Secretary Pritzker has advocated for the passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish NNMI. Specifically, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act would create a network of up to 15 regional institutes nationwide. The legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

NNMI would play a critical role in boosting America’s industrial competitiveness by supporting innovative technology development. Support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs will help strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, two key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Chicago, IL yesterday to meet with students from the Institute of Politics (IOP) to talk about the Administration’s work to spur the economy and tools needed for further growth. Secretary Pritzker joined David Axelrod, Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, for an armchair discussion and Q&A session with IOP students, where she discussed her career background, what the Administration is doing to promote economic growth, her role as Commerce Secretary, and advice to young people starting their careers.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker stated that the most important part of any organization is the people, and making sure they have the tools and support needed to succeed. She highlighted the Department’s role in helping set the conditions for growth and giving businesses key tools to help them expand through unleashing data, environmental intelligence, support for digital infrastructure, assistance for trade and investment through the Department’s U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Foreign Commercial Service Officers. More broadly, Secretary Pritzker discussed the need for investments in infrastructure, passing comprehensive immigration reform, support for trade agreements, spurring more innovation and preparing American workers with the skills training to compete in the global economy.

Secretary Pritzker later joined top leadership from UI labs, local elected officials, and corporate and university leaders for a roundtable discussion about the future of manufacturing innovation and Chicago’s new Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDI). The DMDI is one of the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes announced by President Obama in February. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the importance of these institutes and how the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act will keep America on the cutting edge of innovation and competitiveness by meeting the real and growing demand for the development of more advanced manufacturing technologies. This legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, community colleges and universities, the private sector, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

Why the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation?

Why the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation?

Guest blog post by Barb Ewing, Chief Operating Officer for the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Scott Deutsch, Manager, Communications & Special Programs for the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining

Youngstown Business Incubator is home to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (“America Makes”), the pilot program for the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

Too often, when we think about manufacturing, we think of large, multi-national corporations that once dominated the economic landscape.  However, as corporations continue to downsize and revamp operations, Small to Mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly becoming the life blood of the nation’s manufacturing economy.

Large companies generally have the extra resources – both human and financial -to assume the risks associated with adopting new technologies. They view these investments as critical to becoming more efficient and flexible on a global scale. While the leadership at smaller firms may also recognize the potential benefits, limited technical expertise in house, challenges with their workforce and small (or nonexistent) capital budgets make it more difficult for SMEs to make those same kind of investments.

That’s where the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) can come into play. The NNMI are public private partnerships aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.  Each institute in the network is an exciting new collaboration space for industry and academia to speed up innovation.  They are positioned to “bridge the gap” between basic research and industry needs.  The focus is to de-risk and scale up new materials and processes to solve the priority problems of industry.

Public-Private Partnerships: A Key Enabler for American Manufacturing Innovation

Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin

Guest blog post by Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

 

As we celebrate this year’s Manufacturing Day, Lockheed Martin is hosting hundreds of students, community leaders and government officials at facilities across the country, with the goal of inspiring our next generation of manufacturing leaders. We envision an exciting future for U.S. manufacturing – a future built upon a strong foundation of public-private partnerships.

At Lockheed Martin, we are breaking new ground in additive manufacturing, advanced materials, digital manufacturing and next-generation electronics. We produced the first additively manufactured parts to fly in space onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft – currently on its way to Jupiter. We are launching new STEM and workforce development initiatives, conducting high-impact research, and publicly communicating the importance of manufacturing and job creation to the U.S. economy.

While these are promising steps, it’s important that government, industry and academia come together early and often to accelerate manufacturing innovation. As a nation, we need to successfully transition new technologies from the laboratory to production, and then bring them to the marketplace – both domestic and global. We believe that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) has the potential to transform U.S. manufacturing on a grand scale. For this reason, we are active or committed Tier 1 members at all four Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs) launched to date.

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Last week, I was honored to participate in Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future Second Annual Economic Summit hosted by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) in Rock Island, Illinois. This summit is the highlight of an initiative the Congresswoman launched in 2013 to foster economic collaboration in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and my keynote focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the American manufacturing sector, how we can prepare for success in the global economy, and what is being done at the federal level to help regions succeed. 

Manufacturing matters:

* Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.

* Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, and computer programmers.

* The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17 percent more than similar workers employed in other sectors.

* For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy. 

While some have been quick to write the obits for nearby manufacturing towns like Moline, and East Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, it was refreshing to see the close collaboration taking place locally to bring manufacturing back. 

At the national level, we are working to support our manufacturers by supporting efforts to build the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which is working to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker spoke of the need for passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish the network. NNMI is all about keeping America – our manufacturers, businesses, and economy – globally competitive. NNMI is focused on helping America lead the global economy; boosting local, regional, and state economies, and most importantly, create new growth industries, right here in America. 

Three Takeaways from National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day

Secretary Pritzker enjoying NNMI Day with Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day on Capitol Hill event. She was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed, several business leaders and the directors of the newly established pilot Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation. NNMI Day was an opportunity to showcase the successes of the four pilot institutes in North Carolina, Youngstown, Chicago, and Detroit in the areas of additive, digital, electronics, and modern metals manufacturing. In early 2014, President Obama announced a new competition for the next manufacturing innovation institute, focused on composites materials and structures, which is the first of four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight pilot institutes nationwide.

During the event Thursday, Hill staffers and other attendees had the opportunity to hear from the pilot institute directors and several private sector partners about how a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would help improve U.S. competitiveness, increase domestic production and accelerate development of an advanced manufacturing workforce.

The following are three main takeaways from the speakers and panelists:

Commerce Department Collaborates with Regional Partners to Make the U.S. a Magnet for Advanced Manufacturing and Good Paying Jobs

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee 2.0 and the Manufacturing Council to discuss issues affecting the health of America’s manufacturing industry, including progress on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, President Obama called for the creation of a nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling-up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to create good paying jobs and spur economic growth. These efforts, known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consist of regional hubs, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and government to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. The President has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds—to create an initial network of up to 15 hubs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 such hubs.

Significant progress has already been made to accelerate the development of the NNMI. In January, President Obama announced the selection of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics. President Obama also announced two additional institutes in February – the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, headquartered in Chicago, and the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area. These announcements build on the NNMI pilot – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now known as America Makes – launched in August 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio.