Did you know one way the federal government seeks to remain competitive globally is by investing in more manufacturing tech hubs across the U.S.? In this effort, Manufacturing USA was created to form Manufacturing Innovation Institutes that spur partnerships among public and private sectors to support research in technologies in advanced manufacturing. Since 2011, 14 institutes have opened and another 50 are expected to open by 2027.
In the U.S., each Institute has a strategically chosen specialty and is positioned in a geographic location to support specific industries in its area. For example, the “Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow” which specializes in developing lighter weight metals and composites, is based in Detroit, MI to primarily service the transportation industry and the multitude of machine shops that support the supply chains.
Technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, lightweight materials, biotechnology, digital automation, recycling, power generation, and advanced composites are examples of some of the other Institutes’ areas of innovation.
So why would the federal government invest in forming these Institutes? Having technological hubs, whether they are universities with research capability or government research institutes, has shown to be one way to have companies locate or keep their manufacturing operations in a geographic area. However, competition to have companies locate in an area has not only become a national concern, but it is now a global concern. The decision for an original equipment manufacturer to build a plant in the United States or elsewhere could come down to what technological advantages they may have in one location over the other.
Other countries are making investments in innovation as well. Germany, for instance, has the Fraunhofer Institutes, consisting of 69 institutes that are located geographically in parts of Germany to support those industries in the area. The Fraunhofer Institutes are expanding to other countries including the United States where there are currently 10 centers. China has started a new initiative called “Made in China 2025” that plans to help companies implement “Industry 4.0” at their operations.
With the 2nd Annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017 approaching the question is, “How does a minority business enterprise (MBE) manufacturer get involved with one of these Institutes that may have the technology they need to grow their company?”
The Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Advanced Manufacturing Center can help your company reap the benefits of being a part of one or more of these Institutes. If you have an interest in learning more about the Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, please get in touch with us at the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center or attending the National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017 would be a great start.
RUDY SNYDER, P.E. has worked for Georgia Tech for over 22 years providing expertise and guidance to manufacturing and healthcare organizations. Currently, Snyder splits his time between the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center, helping MBE manufacturers find opportunities, capital, and resources to help them with advanced manufacturing processes, and with assisting physicians and physician groups with Meaningful Use (an incentive program developed by the Office of the National Coordinator to encourage healthcare providers to use electronic health records). He previously directed the information technology services team for the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute and worked as a field engineer in the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.