The Manufacturing USA institutes are a national, bipartisan initiative focused on strengthening U.S. manufacturing in order to protect national security and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. Designed as intensely collaborative applied research and development endeavors among government, industry, and academia, the institutes are intended to become long-term, self-sustaining national assets.
At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened the Committee on Strategic Long-Term Participation of DoD in Its Manufacturing Innovation Institutes to help inform how DoD will engage with its eight institutes now that they are maturing beyond their initial start-up phase.1 To support the committee’s activities, this workshop was designed to garner insights from institute stakeholders with regard to how the institutes have progressed, what their most valued offerings have been, and how to maintain momentum.
The workshop brought together more than 140 stakeholders who heard from leaders within DoD, industry, and the institutes, as well as experts on international initiatives in advanced manufacturing and alternative models for fostering expanded industrial capabilities. In focused breakout sessions, participants from the institutes, federal agencies, industry, and academia identified what they value most about the institutes and why; what activities the institutes should stop, start, or modify; and ways for DoD to maximize the institutes’ long-term impacts.
1 Some have matured beyond their start-up phase; however, some are still undergoing start-up.
DoD’s commitment to the pursuit of innovative defense systems requires a robust, responsive domestic manufacturing base to deliver critical new products quickly and affordably. During the workshop, participants discussed the institutes and whether they are performing adequately toward this goal and delivering significant value to their other stakeholders, with few obvious or extreme course corrections needed. Looking ahead, participants identified a variety of opportunities for improved cross-institute collaboration, roadmapping, funding clarity, process improvements, greater engagement with supply chain partners and other outside entities, expanded workforce training programs, and stronger alignment with DoD needs.