Chapter 2 explains why a strong manufacturing sector is important for the nation’s growth, employment, and national security. It describes the recent declines in U.S. manufacturing and its impacts, previews potential opportunities for “re-shoring” U.S. manufacturing, and discusses how MEP can be a valuable part of a larger national strategy to support manufacturing.

Chapters 3 through 6 of this report describe and assess the MEP program. Chapter 3 describes MEP’s focus on lean manufacturing services. Chapter 4 describes how MEP measures its performance, while Chapter 5 provides an analysis of outcomes. Chapter 6 describes MEP’s new innovation-oriented strategy that is based on an expanded view of its role in supporting manufacturing and also analyzes the challenges MEP faces in implementing this strategy.

Addressing the second facet of the Statement of Task, which is to “identify and review similar national programs from abroad in order to draw on foreign practices, funding levels, and accomplishments as a point of reference; and discuss current needs and initiatives in light of the global focus on advanced manufacturing.” Chapter 7 provides an overview of leading foreign programs to support applied research and manufacturing, revealing the significant scope and commitment of efforts around the world. This analysis is further deepened by a review, found in Appendix A, of five leading national programs to support applied research and manufacturing: Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), Germany’s Fraunhofer Institutes, Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the United Kingdom’s Catapult program, and France’s Carnot initiative.

In light of the evaluation of the MEP program and the review of foreign programs, Chapter 8 of this report draws together the committee’s findings and sets out its consensus recommendations to improve MEP operations and impact and outline potential lessons for U.S. policy.

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