MForesight Holds Congressional Briefing on Grand Challenges in Manufacturing, Highlighting the U.S.’s Diminishing Advanced Manufacturing Prowess

Jun 1, 2018

The Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight (MForesight) recently sponsored a Congressional Briefing on “The Grand Challenges in Manufacturing,” hosted by the House Manufacturing Caucus.  Andrew Bicos, Ph.D., our 2017-2018 ASME Congressional Fellow serving in Congressman Tom Reed’s office, kicked off the event by introducing MForesight Executive Director Sridhar Kota, a former ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow who previously served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Kota discussed the recommendations in their new report “Grand Challenges in Manufacturing”, which was based on over 1,000 hours of roundtable discussions across the country.

Kota suggested that the United States is falling behind other nations in its domestic advanced manufacturing capabilities in part because it is failing to leverage advances in technology due to gaps in the domestic innovation pipeline. He went on to say that the current practice of “invent here, make there” must change. The report suggests that the U.S. creates knowledge through its investments in early stage research and development (R&D), but that it fails to transfer that knowledge into worth for the U.S. Instead, other countries are taking American innovations and are developing and manufacturing them abroad.

Panelist Tanya Das, Manufacturing and Economic Development Adviser serving in the office of Senator Chris Coons, built on this by encouraging the audience to better harness existing regional assets and bolster them with further investments. She noted that the U.S. needs to do a better job empowering small- and medium-sized manufactures and that there needs to be a plan to address the lack of a long-term funding mechanism for the Manufacturing USA institutes. 

Tom Mahoney, the Associate Director of MForesight, suggested that the U.S.’s manufacturing problem has gotten worse, not better since the 1980’s and hopes this new report will encourage further action.

André Gudger, CEO of Eccalon, followed suit and agreed that the Manufacturing USA program is successful at making new discoveries, but that there needs to be more focus on ensuring that these discoveries will be used to better the U.S. innovation ecosystem.

Stephen Ezell, Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), informed attendees that while great research is coming out of our national labs and universities, little is being done to transfer this science into products here in the U.S. He also suggested the U.S. engage in a more thoughtful innovation policy and that the public sector bring intentionality to its approach.

Mike Russo, Corporate Lead for U.S. Governmental Affairs for GloabalFoundries, closed the briefing by saying that all the nations in the world are after the same thing in terms of wanting to become the world’s leader in technology innovation, but that without advanced manufacturing capabilities, nations are unable to fully capitalize on their investments and they go elsewhere, which is what is happening in the U.S.

MForesight’s new report on The Grand Challenges in Manufacturing will soon be available at: http://mforesight.org/download-reports/

More information on the House Manufacturing Caucus and a video recording of the briefing will be posted here: https://housemanufacturingcaucus-reed.house.gov/115th-congress-events