After decades of shifting production offshore to reduce labor costs, the United States has lost fundamental production skill and capabilities—the Industrial Commons—in many industries, with noticeable impacts on the ability to manufacture new advanced technology products, the national innovation system and growing adverse effects on the defense industrial base. The longstanding strategy of “Invent here manufacture there” is fast becoming “invent there, manufacture there” – a dangerous trend for a developed country. Worse, the results of federally funded R&D are increasingly manufactured abroad because of lost engineering skills, infrastructure and process know-how & production capacity in the U.S. Because of these trends it would be difficult for the U.S to establish, let alone lead, the industries of the future.
Bold steps commensurate with the scale and importance of the challengers are absolutely necessary. These include a national strategy and sustained investments in translational research, domestic pilot production, empowering small and medium-sized manufacturers and growing domestic engineering and technical talent. An overarching recommendation in MForesight’s Manufacturing Prosperity report is to establish a National Manufacturing Foundation (NMF) as a critical focal point for manufacturing in the federal government. This talk will highlight the findings and the recommendations from a year-long study and a series of roundtable discussions across the nation.