White House outlines new initiatives for innovation, manufacturing

To mark the anniversary of its executive order on supply chains, the White House released a fact sheet this morning outlining past and future actions to strengthen American competitiveness. The release includes several initiatives that have not been discussed widely before, including that: the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. will vote this spring on an initiative to finance exports of semiconductors, biotech and energy products; the 16 Manufacturing USA institutes will begin holding roundtables on scaling technology and promoting workforce initiatives; and, the Small Business Administration will institute a new committee of industry leaders to advise the agency on startups’ innovations and challenges, as well as host a new America’s Seed Fund (i.e. Small Business Innovation Research) Start-up Expo.

Industry 4.0 adoption doubles among Indiana manufacturers in a year

More than 40 percent of Indiana’s manufacturing companies successfully implemented Industry 4.0 technologies in 2021, more than doubling the number that had reported that a year earlier, according to a recent Conexus Indiana report. The advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) industries are considered the backbone of Indiana’s economy. Indiana manufacturers account for more than $100 billion of the state’s economy and employ 17 percent of the state’s workforce. The industry is at a crossroads, the report holds — challenged to adopt smart technologies and methods to increase its competitiveness. In 2020, Conexus Indiana and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business Center for Excellence in Manufacturing launched an annual survey to measure Indiana industries’ readiness and early adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. That study provided a baseline for the follow-up study in 2021, which found progress on several fronts. For instance:

Applicants sought to address manufacturing workforce inclusion

As the manufacturing sector rebounds, it is expected to need over two million new workers over the next decade to meet supply shortages and increasing demand in sectors such as infrastructure, energy efficiency, and medical equipment. To help recruit and support a more diverse workforce, the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) and The Century Foundation (TCF) are seeking proposals to participate in the Industry and Inclusion Cohort 2.0, a national initiative focused on community colleges delivering impactful credentials and addressing barriers in manufacturing careers. Impactful credentialing includes credential programs (both non-degree and degree) that are well-aligned and developed in partnership with industry and situated within a broader ecosystem of support partners.

Dept. of Energy tech licenses now subject to expanded domestic manufacturing requirements

Technologies that are developed from the Department of Energy’s R&D are now required to be substantially manufactured in America. The requirement was developed in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order that all agencies review their policies related to supply chain vulnerabilities. The rule change takes the domestic manufacturing preference that is in place currently only for exclusive licenses for products sold/used in the U.S. and applies it by default to all Energy licenses from Oct. 1 on.

Feds seek input on manufacturing policy, scientific data

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released a new request for information (RFI) related to a national strategic plan for advanced manufacturing, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are seeking information on how the scientific community uses public data tools. Both RFIs provide an opportunity for the tech-based economic development field to shape the future of federal innovation policy. 

Manufacturing Week celebrates 10 years highlighting industry

This week marks the 10th anniversary celebration of National Manufacturing Week. National Manufacturing Week celebrates the role of the manufacturing sector within the United States. With roughly 12.1 million employees, the manufacturing sector is the fifth largest employer relative to other industries, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The manufacturing sector continues to evolve with the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and improvements in workforce development.

Innovative manufacturing studied in Illinois, lessons for all

Implementing innovative policies is necessary for driving the manufacturing industry forward in Illinois, according to a recent report from the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC). Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans are employed directly in manufacturing, and the manufacturing industry accounts for 12 percent of Illinois’s annual GDP. The findings of the state report, however, are adaptable and can be utilized across the United States in regions that seek to encourage innovation in manufacturing and promote job growth in an increasingly competitive globalized economy.

Defense awards $25 million to manufacturing communities

The Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation revealed the awardees from its second round of the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program this week. The office awarded $5 million to each of five organizations to lead partnerships that will strengthen defense manufacturing and related supply chains. The five awards are listed below and available on the office’s website:

DOE seeks input on creation of new Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute

The U.S. Department of Energy announced a request for information (RFI) to help inform the creation of a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute focused on industrial decarbonization. Released by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the RFI seeks input from stakeholders in identifying key opportunities to decarbonize energy-intensive sectors across America’s economy through public-private collaboration.

MBDA awards $3.7M in grants for specialty centers with emphasis on manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) awarded $3.7 million total in federal funding across nine grant recipients to establish MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Centers, Export Centers, and a Federal Procurement Center. The investment will assist minority business enterprises (MBEs) in generating capital, investing in new technologies, winning federal contracts and expanding the minority business footprint within the economy. The MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Centers and Export Centers each will receive $400,000 a year for five years and the MBDA Federal Procurement Center will receive $500,000 in each of the five years.


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