Building and maintaining a successful innovation system in manufacturing requires a combination of basic research, development and engineering, prototyping, and commercialization. The United States funds and conducts extensive basic research and possesses the manufacturing base to commercialize products, but lacks the development, engineering, and prototyping assets that enables ideas to move from mind to market.
Several of our main global competitors in advanced manufacturing have established innovation centers to bridge this “missing middle.” In Germany, there is an extensive network of Fraunhofer Centers that are funded by industry, universities, and government. In Taiwan, there is the Industrial Technology Research Institute, jointly funded by industry and government. But in the United States, no such national network of innovation centers exists.
The Manufacturing Institute in partnership with EWI has developed a blueprint for establishing a National Manufacturing Innovation Network. This blueprint was developed with significant input from industry, culminating in an Innovation Summit held in Columbus, OH in October, 2011.
In early 2012, President Obama proposed the development of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. This includes the funding of a pilot institute focused on additive manufacturing. The deadline for proposals for the pilot institute was June 14, 2012 and the selection is expected to be made by mid-August.
The Institute will closely follow the pilot institute competition and any events on Capitol Hill that may support the creation of an American Network for Manufacturing Innovation.