Warren Hunt

In Part 1 of this post, I provided an overview of the recently released Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 report and some key recommendations it contains that aim to enable innovation by focusing on select R&D topics and engaging the broader R&D community. I will now focus on three of the report’s recommendations that aim to coordinate the advanced manufacturing enterprise.

Coordination is especially important due to the breadth of what is considered “advanced manufacturing” as well as the large number of organizations involved. While the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) currently has a key role in government-wide coordination, as the number of advanced manufacturing-related programs expands and the private sector is increasingly engaged, additional mechanisms for coordination will be needed to deliver effective outcomes.

The three recommendations below aim to coordinate the advanced manufacturing enterprise to accelerate advanced manufacturing technology development and deployment:

Create an Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Consortium to provide coordinated private‐sector input on national advanced manufacturing technology research and development priorities. – This recommendation proposes the establishment of a group with members from both industry and academia that can advise the multi-agency federal group coordinated through the AMNPO on priorities and needs in advanced manufacturing. Such input will assist in defining priorities across all stages of technology development and provide a partnership pathway for implementation of government-funded outputs. There are a number of existing external advisory groups like this in place (including, for example, the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology, or PCAST, which provided oversight for the AMP 2.0 process) that can be used as models for an Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Consortium.

Create a shared National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) governance structure that can ensure a return on investment for the NNMI’s many stakeholders by including input from various agencies as well as private sector experts, organized labor, and academia. – The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation—which I’ve discussed in a previous post—is growing somewhat organically through the establishment of the Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation in the areas of additive manufacturing, light metals, digital manufacturing, power electronics, and soon in the areas of photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, composites, and smart manufacturing. The AMP 2.0 report recommends a governance structure that enables the individual institutes to continue to operate autonomously, but also creates a public‐private network council to oversee their broader performance, ensuring that best practices are shared and increasing the return on investment for NNMI stakeholders. As NNMI builds out to a projected 45 institutes over the next ten years as proposed, it is clear that this type of structure is going to be necessary.

Leverage and coordinate existing federal, state, industry group, and private intermediary organizations to improve information flow about technologies, markets, and supply chains to small and medium‐sized manufacturers. – This recommendation recognizes the importance of leveraging existing “intermediary organizations” to understand and access the wide range of information needed for technology commercialization and scale up, including technical expertise, supply chain partners, financing options, and government programs. An example of such an organization is the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or MEP, managed through the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The MEP network is continuing to expand and develop by providing increased access to technology (as described in this prior post), establishing new centers, and piloting enhanced business-to-business networks. AMP 2.0 encourages the involvement of additional intermediary organizations and provides some guidelines for their efforts (see Appendix 4 of the AMP 2.0 report for details), which will create even more opportunities for organizations who meet this criteria going forward, including professional societies and trade organizations.

Looking back at the almost three years since President Obama’s 2011 announcement of AMP, substantial groundwork has been laid for the acceleration of advanced manufacturing in the United States. The AMP 2.0 report marks the start of the next phase of build out and provides important guidance for building on the progress of the Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation and gaining momentum in the right directions. Members of the advanced manufacturing community and supporting organizations like Nexight Group are looking forward to those next steps and doing our best to help facilitate this important progress.