Last month, the President asked Congress to create a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation made up of up to 15 Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation around the United States. He also stated his intention to launch a Pilot Institute using existing resources from the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The President was speaking at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), which will open soon near Richmond, Virginia. CCAM is an example of the kind of partnership that the National Network would create on a much larger scale and that the Pilot Institute would demonstrate. It involves big and small companies, leading universities, and the state of Virginia and will perform research and development, train students and workers for advanced manufacturing careers, and deliver new "production-ready" solutions to existing factories.
The Administration is moving quickly to act on the President’s announcements. A team from several Federal agencies will engage the industrial, academic, and State and regional communities on the subject of manufacturing innovation, starting this month. This collaborative process will eventually lead to the selection of a team to run the Pilot Institute and a detailed design for the full Network for Congressional consideration.
The Pilot Institute will focus on additive manufacturing and aims to demonstrate the value of collaborative problem-solving and asset-building that could occur on a broader scale if the Network were to be established. Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer. It has the potential to meet defense and energy challenges and support U.S. manufacturing companies of all sizes by minimizing the need for tooling, compressing the supply chain, and reducing waste—better enabling them to compete on the international stage. A Request for Information (RFI) will be issued soon for the Pilot Institute; further details can be found on manufacturing.gov.
The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to develop and enact the legislation required to establish the Network. In order to strengthen the information base for Congressional consideration and to facilitate input from key stakeholders, the participating agencies, led by the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, will hold a series of workshops across the country and issue a separate RFI in April. The first workshop will be held on April 25 in Troy, New York. This consultative process seeks to identify technology focus areas of interest to diverse manufacturing sectors and companies of all sizes. It will also explore institutional design and governance issues, such as the ownership and handling of intellectual property generated by the Network. Stay tuned to manufacturing.gov for further details on this process as well.
David Hart is Assistant Director for Innovation Policy at OSTP