The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation has released a report arguing support for the adoption of President Obama’s recently proposed $1 billion National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMMI). The Foundation says that even in economic hard times, the benefits from establishing such a center would far outweigh the up-front costs. If NMMI is approved, it could take on a "catalytic" role, spurring the private sector into further action. Here are the first few paragraphs of the report:
The United States lacks an integrated, well-funded national network of large-scale, industry-led manufacturing innovation centers. Leading manufacturing nations around the world, from Germany to Taiwan, have such centers, which accelerate technology deployment, operate demonstration facilities and test beds, support education and training, and perform applied research on new manufacturing processes, among other activities. The proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) would fill this void. This report explains why action on this proposal is vital to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and worthy of investment even in a time of tight budget constraints. It then articulates key principles that should guide the development of the NNMI.
America needs a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. This paper sets forth the argument for this proposition in two parts. The first part makes the case for an innovation-centered national manufacturing policy. It lays out key challenges facing the U.S. manufacturing sector, advances reasons why the nation should care about manufacturing, and sets forth the rationale for an active federal role in fostering manufacturing innovation. Crucially, this role should be catalytic, not directive; federal actions should spur other key players, especially the private sector, into action and foster stronger collaboration among them.
The second half of the paper articulates five key principles that should govern the design of the NNMI. These principles are:
- A focus within each of the NNMI’s constituent Institutes on significant, industrydefined innovation challenges, particularly in process innovation;
- Support for the full innovation process, including technology roadmapping, applied research, operation of demonstration facilities and testbeds that benefit small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs), education and training at all levels, and development of standards and credentials;
- Collaboration among academia, business, government, and other partners, led by manufacturers;
- A bottom-up competitive process, managed by the federal government, to identify innovation focus areas and select collaborative teams;
- Private-public co-investment, with manufacturers providing about 50 percent of each Institute’s resources and federal and state agencies carrying most of the balance