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Public and Private Sectors Agree: Strong Manufacturing Is Key to U.S. Innovation and a Competitive Future

Federal Government Seeks Input on Cross-Sector Initiatives to Bolster Manufacturing

New York, May 15, 2012

Top U.S. scientists, industry leaders, and public officials came together at The Atlantic’s From Inspiration to Innovation Summit on May 8, 2012, for a day of dialogue on how to nurture talent and fuel new scientific breakthroughs for a more competitive America. Among the speakers and participants were experts in research and development, renewable energy, smart grid, and advanced manufacturing, representing a number of member organizations of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) from both the public and private sectors. The critical message that echoed throughout the day’s discussions was that our ability to innovate and build a stronger U.S. economy is deeply dependent upon our manufacturing capability.

Federal Government Seeks Input on Cross-Sector Initiatives to Bolster Manufacturing

The Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, an interagency effort based at NIST, has released a request for information (RFI) inviting ideas, recommendations, and other public input on the design, governance, and other aspects of public-private partnership, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

As envisioned by the Obama Administration, the NNMI will be the foundation of a U.S. innovation infrastructure of up to 15 linked regional hubs of manufacturing excellence, called Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs). The IMIs would bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies, and regional and state organizations to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications.

For further details on the RFI and how to comment, read the Federal Register notice. Comments are due to NIST by October 25, 2012.
From the private sector, ANSI member The Boeing Company’s CEO James McNerney shared insights on “The Technology Imperative: Revitalizing America through Innovation,” in an interview conducted by Edward Luce of the Financial Times. On the public side, Patrick Gallagher, under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an ANSI government member, spoke as part of a panel on “Advanced Manufacturing: Made in America. . . Again?”

Mr. Gallagher explained that his agency’s mission is to ensure that U.S. industries have the infrastructure of measurements, standards, and technology they need to be competitive in global markets, particularly manufacturing-based industries. ANSI works in close collaboration with NIST in key areas of national priority, in a public-private partnership that highlights the importance of standardization and collaboration to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.

“Advanced manufacturing, in particular, depends on participants other than just the manufacturers,” said Mr. Gallagher. “In real life, there are…university-based researchers, industry-based technologists, and government researchers. We want to know, ‘How do we lower the friction and get these different types of participants together?’” According to a post detailing the summit on The Commerce Blog, the federal government has a natural role in supporting manufacturing, because manufacturing is vital to our national security and economy.

President Obama’s 2013 budget has a strong focus on increasing advanced manufacturing capabilities and calls for $2.2 billion for federal advanced manufacturing R&D at the National Science Foundation, Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, and other agencies.

Mr. Gallagher stressed, “We have an obligation to make sure all the oars are pulling in the same direction, that the things we are doing as a country promote research and development, that they create advantage and opportunity.”

Read the full Department of Commerce blog post.

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