Report: U.S. manufacturing needs policymakers to back smart manufacturing

Nov. 30, 2016
Tech-policy think tank ITIF releases a report on how concentrating on smart manufacturing would reduce advantages of low-wage nations

According to an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) report, for the United States to regain global manufacturing market share, it must focus on smart manufacturing. Sound familiar? The report posits that smart manufacturing could reduce the advantages low-wage nations have in the industry in favor of higher-cost nations, but only if policymakers act.

“The countries, companies, and industries that lead in embracing smart-manufacturing techniques will gain first-mover advantage over global competitors,” said Stephen J. Ezell, the report’s author and ITIF vice president for global innovation policy. “If policymakers want to ensure that American industries remain on the cutting edge of manufacturing innovation to stay globally competitive, they need to implement policies that can help ensure the United States remains a smart-manufacturing leader.”

ITIF is urging Congress to:

  • allocate funding to build out the Manufacturing USA network;
  • provide a stronger tax incentive for investment in machinery and equipment;
  • pass the Small Business R&D Act;
  • make the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership cost-share ratio more generous;
  • expand the development and use of standards-based, nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications designed for specific manufacturing sectors;
  • boost support for vocational-education programs at community colleges;
  • reform the Workforce Investment Act system;
  • pass the Energy Modernization Act;
  • pass the Manufacturing Universities Act;
  • pass the National Fab Lab Network Act;
  • fund a pilot program to integrate the maker movement and makerspaces into high schools;
  • fund research and development into underlying technological challenges relevant to the Internet of Things;
  • fund the National Strategic Computing Initiative and federal high-performance computing initiatives; and
  • support trade agreements that preclude partner nations from imposing barriers to cross-border data flows.

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