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New ITIF Report Benchmarks National Policies and Programs Supporting Manufacturers

September 21, 2011

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released International Benchmarking of Countries' Policies and Programs Supporting SME Manufacturers — a new report that identifies and analyzes manufacturing support programs and practices for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have been implemented in ten foreign countries (i.e., Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom), in addition to those of the United States. The authors, Stephen Ezell and Robert D. Atkinson Ph.D., provide a cross-national comparison of countries' SME manufacturing support programs and pratices across five categories:

  • Formal SME manufacturing support agencies or programs;
  • The range of services provided by SME manufacturing support agencies and programs;
  • Funding levels and business models for these agencies or programs;
  • Best practices observed across countries' SME manufacturing support programs; and,
  • Measures of impact and return on investment from these programs;

The authors concluded that the leading manufacturing countries feature an "integrated, multifaceted approach toward supporting their SME manufacturers and fund them robustly." They also highlight that global best practices have shifted towards supporting R&D, innovation and growth efforts and away from helping SMEs with process and productivity improvements. According to the report, nations have shifted towards supporting R&D efforts with the intentions of SMEs developing "their own indigenous and repeatable capabilities at developing innovative new products."

The report highlights that the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership's (MEP) evolution towards providing support for SMEs related to technology acceleration, innovation and growth-supporting activities is in line with international trends. However, MEP and other U.S. public-private partnerships focused on support for SME manufacturers should take the opportunity to learn from their peers' best practices. To revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base, the authors contend MEP and other public-private partnerships must continue to provide "support in an integrated fashion that focuses on technology adoption, new product development and the innovation activities of U.S. SMEs." According to the authors, these integrated support services are essential for U.S. SMEs to compete in the global economy due to other nations increasingly realizing the importance of supporting their SME manufacturers. Read the report...

ITIF also hosted an event September 14, 2011 featuring presentations from key officials in U.S. and foreign governments crafting SME manufacturing policy in their countries, including the MEP's Director Roger Kilmer. View the presentations...

manufacturing, international, policy recommendations, economic impact report