Bipartisan Bill “EndlessFrontier Act” adopts MForesight’s Recommendations
The bipartisan, bicameral bill released last week, The Endless Frontier Act (summary found here), is an impressive piece of legislation. When passed and implemented, it will have salutary impacts on U.S. technology development and commercialization and our long-term competition with China. Several aspects of this bill are aligned with the issues and recommendations made in the 2018 and 2019 MForesight reports, American Affairs journal article on “Reinventing Competitiveness” and the Wall Street Journal article, “Innovation Should be Made in the USA”. Thank you all for your leadership and contributions in shaping MForesight’s work and results.
• The Technology Directorate to be added to NSF will begin to address MForesight’s call for the creation of a National Manufacturing Initiative in the Reclaiming America’s Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing report or even the National Manufacturing Foundation proposed in our Wall Street Journal article
• The Regional Technology Hubs, Test Beds, and University Technology Centers are similar to our call for regional Translational Research Centers that MForesight described in 2018 Manufacturing Prosperity report, with many of the activities called for in the bill intended to advance translational research and to support domestic manufacturing & commercialization
• The provisions in the bill that support workforce development, small and medium-sized manufacturers, and strengthening domestic supply chains would accomplish many of MForesight’s recommendations.
• The Act rightly includes MForesight’s recommendation for an assessment of manufacturing capacity and plans for building innovation ecosystems and strengthening the U.S. industrial base. This will provide much needed national focus on rebuilding the country’s industrial commons.
I was also pleased to see that the level of funding is beyond what MForesight called for, but certainly commensurate with the ambitions defined in the bill.
This is a great beginning but to fully and effectively operationalize the activities detailed in the bill, we need legislation on at least two other issues identified by MForesight.
First, as MForesight has emphasized, protections are needed to ensure that new technologies developed with government funding are manufactured domestically. This legislation should include a requirement that any and all new products/processes/methods supported through the new Technology Directorate (created by the Endless Frontier Bill) must be manufactured in the U.S (at least 75% value-added) without any exemptions or waivers.
Second, the new Technology Directorate should be considered as a stepping stone towards the creation of a new independent agency focused on long-term support for the nation’s manufacturing innovation ecosystem. With their well-established cultures and procedures honed over many years to meet their respective missions, the NSF and Department of Commerce, mentioned in the bill, do not have the focus required to fully achieve the objectives of this legislation. The U.S. needs a new agency that will focus on ensuring a return on taxpayer investment in R&D and a culture of innovation that is aligned with the basic tenets of the Endless Frontier Act.