President Obama unveils plans for manufacturing centres

US president Barack Obama has announced plans for a series of manufacturing centres aimed at bridging the gap between basic research and product development.

To this end, the Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a federal commitment of $200m.

The Department of Defense will lead two of the new Institutes, focused on Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation, and Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing, and the Department of Energy will lead one new institute on Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing.

All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense. Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year. Federal funds will be matched by industry co-investment, support from state and local governments, and other sources. 

The announcement builds on the initial success of a pilot institute – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) in Youngstown, Ohio – that consists of a consortium of manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations primarily from the so-called Tech Belt of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Looking to 2014, the president will continue to call on Congress to act on his proposal for a one-time $1bn investment to create an additional network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country.

The President’s manufacturing agenda starts with his vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a model based on approaches adopted successfully in other countries.

Each institute would serve as a regional hub, bringing together companies, universities and community colleges, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the US.

The UK’s new innovation centres are aimed at changing the way we commercialise technology. Click here to read more.