During the past decade public-private partnerships (P3s) have built some vital transportation and infrastructure projects in the U.S. Now a similar cooperative approach is being applied to an entirely different sector—manufacturing. Regional manufacturing innovation institutes are bringing together the resources of private industry, colleges and universities, associations, research institutions and federal, state and local governments in an effort to boost the country’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, create more high-quality jobs and increase the global competitiveness of U.S.-made products.
President Obama first proposed a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation of 15 different regional applied research centers in 2012. To jumpstart the program, he used an executive order to create four manufacturing innovation hubs funded from the existing budgets of federal departments and agencies.
Each manufacturing innovation hub concentrates on a particular aspect of manufacturing technology. Each is composed of public and private partnership groups, chosen for the strength and diversity of their membership and for the availability in their region of the skilled labor and infrastructure to support the hub’s mission. The manufacturing institutes will receive federal funding for five years, and all projects they undertake must, at a minimum, provide private or other types of public funding equal to the federal government investment.
By Mary Lou Jay