This chapter summarizes key points made by workshop presenters and discussants. These statements reflect the views and opinions of individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
A number of speakers emphasized that U.S.-based manufacturing is important for the nation’s security and economic growth.
- Erica Fuchs, Sridhar Kota, and others argued that a strong manufacturing base is essential for national security.
- Susan Helper showed evidence that a strong domestic manufacturing base is also essential for the nation’s economic well-being. She noted that manufacturing plays a central role in creating wealth and high-value employment in the United States.
Speakers also pointed out that past disinvestment in the manufacturing sector has harmed the United States.
- André Gudger noted that the outsourcing of manufacturing over the longer term has led to the degradation of the manufacturing commons. He asserted that this has contributed to the decline in manufacturing jobs, as well as the decline in innovative capacity associated with manufacturing.
- Kirk McConnell observed that the United States underwent a major disruption of its social fabric, in part because of the decline in U.S. manufacturing, in the period 2000–2010. He cited rising mortality rates and high levels of opioid addition among working-class Americans as symptoms of this problem.
- Erica Fuchs drew a direct connection between U.S. production capability and ongoing innovation in the United States. When production is moved abroad to take advantage of lower wages and costs, she observed, U.S. firms can become dependent on this system of production and cancel work on needed innovations in the product line.
Most speakers observed that the nation’s competitors are doing more than the United States to invest in advanced manufacturing.
- Patrick Bressler reported that the annual budget of the Fraunhofer institutes is approximately 2 billion euros. By comparison, the Manufacturing USA institutes are funded through cooperative agreements with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) totaling about $1 billion in federal commitments, matched by $2 billion in private funding for the 14 institutes thus far, spread over a 5- to 7-year period.
- Sridhar Kota noted that an important lesson from the German Fraunhofer institutes is the role of long-term commitment of the federal and state governments in providing matching funds to reinforce private investment.
- Bill Bonvillian stressed the importance of understanding that the nation’s competitors—the two most successful manufacturing nations, China and Germany—are pursuing advanced manufacturing all out. If the United States wants to stay in the game, he added, it has little choice but to pursue advanced manufacturing.
- Jonas Nahm reported that the new China 2025 strategy includes a $3 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
- Ravi Shanker said he believes the nation needs to make some “big bets” in advancing manufacturing for the good of the country.
- Brett Lambert observed that “we need to understand where we will be in 5 years on advanced manufacturing, because that’s where our competitors are going.” Other countries have robust and well-funded national strategies to support advanced manufacturing, he noted.
- Susan Helper suggested that while the American and German systems differ in key respects, Germany’s leadership in advanced exports and manufacturing employment demonstrates the positive impact of sustained policy attention to manufacturing.
Many speakers described the Manufacturing USA initiative as a needed strategy for drawing innovation to the manufacturing sector and developing the innovation ecosystem.
- Jeff Wilcox suggested that the institutes enable manufacturing firms to cross over and access emerging developments in a variety of technological fields. For large companies, the Manufacturing USA institutes help draw in innovation by facilitating cooperation with universities and small businesses.
- He added that the institutes have demonstrated their ability to promote collaboration across firms, to link participating firms to new suppliers, to coordinate technological roadmapping in new areas, and to introduce new technologies across different industrial sectors.
- André Gudger noted that the manufacturing institutes represent a means to bring about “a resurgence of technical innovation, technical dominance, and technical superiority” in U.S. manufacturing.
- According to Mark LaViolette, the Manufacturing USA institutes are helping to overcome fragmentation among U.S. manufacturers that has prevented firms from undertaking collective action to develop new technologies. He added that the workforce education role of the institutes helps resolve local shortages of skilled technical workers.
- Erica Fuchs stressed the role that the institutes can play in connecting other research and development (R&D) agencies to the advanced manufacturing agenda. While the institutes can fund platform technologies, she emphasized that the foundational work behind those technologies is also critical. This means, she suggested, that ways should be found to engage other R&D entities, through the development of research agendas and technology roadmaps with the institutes, which will be important to the success of an advanced manufacturing strategy in the United States.
Some speakers noted that the idea of a public–private partnership to strengthen manufacturing is not new. In fact, they observed, the United States has a long tradition in public–private partnerships for manufacturing.
- Jeff Wilcox described Alexander Hamilton’s role in promoting a U.S. economic strategy around manufacturing capability, linking the new nation’s political and economic independence with capabilities in domestic manufacturing.
- He noted that Hamilton also established the first public–private partnerships in Passaic, New Jersey, to stimulate U.S.-based manufacturing.
A number of workshop participants presented results of recent assessments showing that the institutes, while still new, are making an impact.
- Mark LaViolette said the Deloitte review found that the institutes are enabling companies to overcome fragmentation in the manufacturing sector that has hindered them from collaborating to innovate new products and to train the skilled technical workforce.
- Christopher Murray of the Government Accountability Office said he was impressed by the progress made by the Department of Commerce in coordinating the Manufacturing USA effort across the sponsoring agencies. He suggested that Commerce also reach out to other federal agencies that are not sponsors of the institutes.
- With regard to fulfilling the mission of his institute, Yoel Fink said that connections among different types of producers and innovators are enabling a Moore’s Law for fabrics, with rapid prototyping that would not otherwise be possible in a disconnected sector with little history of collaboration. AFFOA, he indicated, has a special focus on bringing in startup firms in collaboration with other member firms, to scale up new fiber technologies; this approach could provide lessons for other institutes.
- Yoel Fink also suggested that by acting as unpaid licensing agents for university participants' intellectual property, institutes could enable better IP sharing and collaboration across institute companies.
- Nick Justice and Lawrence Brown described their institutes as key enablers for small and medium-sized manufacturers, which would otherwise lack the resources to access and implement innovation.
- Mike Molnar said the institute network is educating the workforce by imparting common skill sets across the institutes. He added that an institute-wide effort is under way to develop training modules around core competencies.
Participants also offered advice and suggestions for improving the institutes and their networks.
- Jeff Wilcox called for speeding up and standardizing membership agreements with firms and developing industry roadmaps to coordinate the work of industry partners.
- Erica Fuchs suggested that the institutes connect actively with other public and private research organizations to take full advantage of the value of the network and to elicit new ideas for innovation for the institutes to build on.
- Mike Molnar suggested that the institutes can learn much from each other’s experiences in research, information exchange, and innovation, which suggests that the network role needs to continue to be strengthened.
- Jeff Wilcox noted that Manufacturing USA must be a “national network because these [technologies] are not one-off things.” He noted we can't have “metals over there and composites over there, and robots over there.” He suggested the network needs to play a growing role in integrating the work of its individual institutes into larger systems. Bill Bonvillian reiterated this point, noting that the German Fraunhofer institutes provide lessons on how to bring the various advanced manufacturing strands together into such a system.
Given the importance of their mission and evidence that their approach is proving effective, several participants urged that the institutes develop strategies for remaining viable following the initial period of federal support.
- Speaking in the first panel, several institute directors described their plans for ensuring the sustainability of the institutes, even as work is ongoing to establish them. For example, Lawrence Brown of Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) said his institute seeks to become a provider of advanced engineering services and workforce development as a way of providing value for the members of its network.
- Arun Seraphin emphasized that Manufacturing USA has to make the case for why it is valuable. He suggested that the institutes develop a strategy for communicating to policy makers, including both anecdotal information and data on new technologies that are incorporated into new military products and systems.
- Similarly, Katie Stebbins suggested that the institutes and their networks engage more broadly with state policy makers and officials on their contributions to the regional economy.
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