Congressional Briefing: “Manufacturing Prosperity”

Event Recap

On May 24th, the House Manufacturing Caucus highlighted MForesight’s forthcoming report on restoring U.S. manufacturing leadership.

Problems and Pospects

American manufacturing faces both daunting challenges and transformative opportunities. As production has moved offshore over recent decades, research and development (R&D) has eventually followed, resulting in a denigration of the nation’s manufacturing base. Nonetheless, new opportunities are emerging that play to American strengths — particularly in higher education and advanced technology research.

A panel of leading experts on manufacturing policy and practice shared their views on these problems and prospects for U.S. industry. Fifty attendees gathered at the Capitol Visitor Center for a discussion moderated by Prof. Sridhar Kota, Executive Director of MForesight. The panel included:

  • Tanya Das, Legislative Fellow on Manufacturing and Economic Development, Office of Sen. Coons (D-DE)
  • André Gudger, CEO of Eccalon
  • Stephen Ezell, Vice President on Global Innovation Policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • Mike Russo, Director of U.S. Government Affairs at GLOBALFOUNDRIES
  • Tom Mahoney, Associate Director of MForesight

Strategies for U.S. Manufacturing Leadership

Over the past several months, MForesight held a series of roundtables with manufacturing experts, business leaders, and policymakers in cities across the United States. The roundtable discussions focused on addressing four specific challenges:

  1. Maintaining America’s industrial commons: How can the U.S. maintain its ecosystem of skilled trades, engineering expertise, and production capacity in critical sectors?
  2. Keeping R&D onshore: With strong linkages between R&D and production, combined with growing capacity and funding for R&D in foreign countries, how can the U.S. ensure that private R&D remains here?
  3. Ensuring financing for “hardware” start-ups ad scale-ups: How can America increase opportunities for manufacturing start-ups to scale-up operations and root production at home?
  4. Capitalizing on national R&D investments: What steps are needed to ensure that America captures the wealth generated from new products and processes emerging from large national R&D spending?

Over the course of these roundtables, participants identified several viable strategies for decision-makers in the public and private sectors to restore domestic manufacturing. At the Capitol Hill briefing, Prof. Kota provided an overview of these recommendations from diverse stakeholders:

I. Invest in translational R&D and manufacturing innovation.

II. Invest in manufacturing R&D and promote scale-ups

III. Empower small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs)

IV. Grow domestic engineering and technical talent

Panelists demonstrated consensus on a crucial point: “the level of interest in manufacturing policy is amongst the highest among lawmakers in memory.” Building on the roundtable recommendations and the growing interest among policymakers, panelists emphasized a range of proactive ideas. Dr. Das emphasized the importance of technology transfer programs in order to make the most of existing investments. Mr. Gudger urged efforts to streamline processes for manufacturers doing business with the federal government. Mr. Ezell emphasized specific advantage of each of the recommendations in the report — and the broader goal of supporting strong holistic innovation ecosystems as an alternative to industry bail-outs or imposing new trade barriers. While panelists showed general consensus on these ideas, they also emphasized that not every manufacturing industry can be saved. America must make strategic choices in the years ahead.

The two-hour panel and Q&A discussion kept legislative staff, federal officials, non-profit officials, and private industry leaders deeply engaged. As a “think-and-do tank” focused on the future of American manufacturing, MForesight looks forward to continuing to partner with leaders across industries and agencies to enhance innovation and competitiveness.