An Innovation-Driven Strategy for Advanced Manufcturing

W.B. Bonvillian
MIT Washington Office, US

Keywords: advanced manufacturing, paradigm, innovation, scale-up


Manufacturing in the U.S. is usually not pictured as part of the innovation process. This is a fragmented, disconnected view; arguably innovation demands to be looked at as a system, from early stage research through production. This organizational failure means strong U.S. innovation capacity is failing to translate innovations into employment and limiting its growth rate. An integrated innovation strategy is required if the U.S. is to reinvent its production capability. It should include: developing advanced technologies that could lead to new manufacturing paradigms, integrating technology development with efforts to develop new processes and business models, in doing this, encompassing a new combined services/production model, building an advanced manufacturing workforce, creating new regional public-private infrastructure for test-bedding and implementation, and tackling the financing problem for SMEs and startups for advanced manufacturing. Production is the central way an economy scales growth. Services are largely face-to-face and tend to scale gradually, but production can scale rapidly and enable “increasing returns”. Because of its scaling effect, modern societies need to be careful to retain a focus on manufacturing, not just settle for services with slower scaling.