Tech Initiatives to 'Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere'

Last week, Commerce Secretary Bryson spoke about his vision for American manufacturing – a vision he summarized as “Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere.” That inspired me to share an update on three tech initiatives that have achieved important milestones this month in furtherance of that vision.

National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Consortium (NDEMC)

The NDEMC is a public-private partnership—seeded by the Economic Development Administration and driven by a coalition of large multinational companies, universities and supercomputing facilities—that helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers use modeling and simulation technologies. On December 8, the U.S. Council on Competitiveness featured two employers in the program. One of them, Craig Carson, CEO of Jeco Plastic Products, is expanding his 25-person plastics company thanks to NDEMC’s work to democratize access to sophisticated modeling & simulation tools. He is poised to win a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with an innovative product that substitutes for a more costly item currently manufactured overseas. The other featured employer, Larry Rosenboom, CEO of Rosenboom Machine Tool Inc., described his experience as a selected partner to access John Deere’s modeling & simulation tools to test and develop improved parts in the supply chain. It is a classic win-win story: Deere gets a better product in its supply chain and the supplier can leverage its new capacity to sell in adjacent markets.

Connecting American Manufacturers

On November 29, the Defense Department launched a “broad agency announcement” seeking e-sourcing tools that screen, organize, and present agency needs and requirements to improve their ability to find the right supplier with the right capabilities and capacity at the right time. The solicitation is part of an effort called “Connecting American Manufacturers,” which aims to expand the pool of participants in defense manufacturing by digitizing more of the acquisition process. This approach responds directly to feedback we heard during our recent Champions of Change – “Make it in America" event. One of our honorees, Rebecca Ufkes of UEC Electronics in South Carolina, noted that we should be able to do something about the (increasingly false) perception about the poor cost competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing—perhaps by increasing access to domestic manufacturing capacity. Thanks for the challenge, Rebecca. We hope this effort is just the first step on that important journey.

Make in Detroit

Last week, “Make in Detroit,” a grassroots movement launched this past July as part of the President’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, convened a gathering of manufacturing-focused entrepreneurs and support organizations at The Henry Ford to brainstorm activities in 2012. One of its member partners, Auto Harvest, recently launched a beta version of its online IP marketplace – an ecosystem of large companies, Federal agencies and grassroots innovators to accelerate technology commercialization in advanced manufacturing. Like many communities, Detroit is focused on rebuilding its manufacturing economy by connecting creators, doers and entrepreneurs.  And the Auto Harvest marketplace—with its database of information on more than 32,500 awards from various Federal agencies over the past five years, is helping to reveal the great job creating potential in federally-funded R&D.

So let’s get to work in response to Secretary Bryson’s call by scaling these three projects and others like them in new markets across the country. Together we can harness the power and potential of technology, data, and innovation to reinvigorate America’s manufacturing base.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

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