Late yesterday (September 15, 2014), the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Revitalizing American Manufacturing Innovation (RAMI) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2996 in the House; S. 1468 in the Senate). ITIF commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this important legislation and calls upon the U.S. Senate to follow suit in quick order. The RAMI legislation calls for one-time funding of $300 million over seven years for the Secretary of Commerce to establish several Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs), collectively known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The IMIs represent unique public-private partnerships between the federal government, local governments, universities, research institutes, and industry designed to accelerate manufacturing innovation in technologies with commercial applications by leveraging resources to bridge the gap between basic research performed at U.S. universities and research laboratories and product development by U.S. manufacturers.
Four IMIs have already been established, including America Makes, focusing on additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D-printing) in Youngstown, Ohio; the Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) at the University of Illinois; and the Lightweight & Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) Institute in Detroit, Michigan. Full Congressional passage of the RAMI Act would authorize funding for the establishment of at least four additional Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation on a competitive, industry-led, and technology-neutral basis.
As ITIF writes in Manufacturing Institutes: A Key to Revitalizing U.S. Manufacturing, these centers would accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant advanced manufacturing process and product technologies, positioning them to play a vital role in enhancing U.S. industrial competitiveness by supporting development of technologies that will enable U.S. manufacturers to develop the cutting-edge technologies needed to compete in the global marketplace. In other words, a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation can help ensure that the fruits of basic scientific research and technological discovery get translated into commercial products manufactured at scale in the United States. This would both help boost the competitiveness of America’s manufacturing companies and industries and support additional manufacturing employment in the United States.
On Thursday, September 18, ITIF President Robert Atkinson will moderate a panel on the Pilot Manufacturing Institutes: Engagement and Impact with Industry at a Congressional Briefing as part of The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Day (NNMI), to be held in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902, from 8:30 to 11:45am. The event will be an opportunity to share early IMI successes while explaining how a broader network of IMIs can further enhance American manufacturing innovation and competitiveness.