President Obama has proposed building the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), consisting of regional hubs that will accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. Over the last two years, he has acted to jumpstart the network by launching four innovation hubs and initiating the establishment of four more, all by executive order while awaiting congressional action.
Individually and together, these regional hubs—public-private partnerships called Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs)—will help to strengthen the global competitiveness of existing U.S. manufacturers, spur new ventures, and boost local and state economies. (See NNMI at a Glance.)
In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, the President called for creating a full-fledged nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes. He has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds-to create an initial network of up to 15 IMIs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 IMIs.
While legislation pends, the Administration has made significant progress toward building a manufacturing innovation network with nationwide reach and impact.
- The competitively selected National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (now known as America Makes) was launched in August 2012 as the NNMI pilot hub. Headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes was established with an initial federal investment of $30 million, using existing authorities in the Departments of Defense and Energy and other federal agencies. Now a 94-member consortium that includes manufacturers, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations, America Makes is devoted to helping the U.S. grow its capabilities in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, by fostering collaboration in design, materials, technology, workforce and more. Already, more than 20 collaborative research projects are under way.
- The Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, was launched Jan. 15, 2014, with 25 members, who matched the Department of Energy investment of $70 million. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics.
- Announced by the President on Feb. 25, 2014, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute is headquartered in Chicago and led by UI Labs. This competitively selected consortium consists of 73 companies, universities, nonprofits, and research labs. It is funded with a $70 million federal investment, led by the Department of Defense, which was more than matched by non-federal partners. This partnership will work to enable interoperability across the supply chain, develop enhanced digital capabilities to design and test new products, and reduce costs in manufacturing processes across multiple industries.
- The Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, also announced by the President on Feb. 25, 2014, will develop processes that accelerate scale-up of production of lightweight alloys for use in wind turbines, air frames, medical devices, combat vehicles, and other products, leading to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs. Headquartered in the Detroit area and led by EWI, the competitively selected 60-member consortium pairs leading aluminum, titanium, and manufacturers with universities and laboratories in pioneering technology development and manufacturing research. The institute is funded with a $70 million federal investment, led by the Department of Defense, which was matched by non-federal partners.
- In his 2014 State of the Union Address, the President said that, while awaiting congressional action, the Administration will proceed with four additional manufacturing innovation institutes. The first of these will be a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Composites Materials and Structures, led by DOE. And in his budget for the 2015 fiscal year, he proposes funding for a biomanufacturing innovation institute, which would be led by the Department of Agriculture.
- In September 2013, the President announced Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee "2.0." AMP 2.0 is a renewed, cross-sector, national effort to secure US leadership in the emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance America’s global competitiveness. The steering committee, whose members are among the nation's leading lights in industry, academia, and labor, is a working group of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
- After a nationwide outreach effort that included a formal request for information, the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office prepared National Network for Manufacturing Innovation: A Preliminary Design, a report issued by the White House National Science and Technology Council on Jan. 16, 2013.
NNMI at a Glance
The Federal investment in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) serves to create an effective manufacturing research infrastructure for U.S. industry and academia to solve industry-relevant problems. The NNMI will consist of linked Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs) with common goals, but unique concentrations. In an IMI, industry, academia, and government partners leverage existing resources, collaborate, and co-invest to nurture manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization.
As sustainable manufacturing innovation hubs, IMIs will create, showcase, and deploy new capabilities, new products, and new processes that can impact commercial production. They will build workforce skills at all levels and enhance manufacturing capabilities in companies large and small. Institutes will draw together the best talents and capabilities from all the partners to build the proving grounds where innovations flourish and to help advance American domestic manufacturing.