What is in this article?:
- Innovation: The MIT Way
- Five Tips from MIT
"Yes, you need the labs and you need the very expensive equipment and all that. But it comes down to having people work together to make this happen. That is the essential element for success."
- Leon Sandler, executive director, Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, MIT
In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that 2014 would be "a year of action." He wasn't kidding.
In just the first two months of 2014, Obama announced the creation of three new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) hubs designed to do nothing less than to disrupt, revitalize and transform American manufacturing.
All told, these innovation centers, set up in Detroit, Chicago, and Raleigh, N.C., wield over $600 million in public/private investments and the commitment from 160 manufacturers, universities and industry organizations. The Detroit project alone – the "American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Initiative "(ALMMII) – is expected to single-handedly bring 10,000 new jobs to the region.
And that's just the start – by year's end, Obama has promised four more institutes created in manufacturing hotbeds across the country, all of them pulling together the right people, institutions and companies to push manufacturing and manufacturing technology forward.
Combined with the NNMI's pilot institute, America Makes (formerly NAMII), created back in August 2012, these eight centers and the nearly $1 billion of investment they carry are the first big push toward the ultimate goal of 45 centers set up within the next decade. They are also the proving grounds for the model they represent.
If all goes as planned, the next few years could see rapid advancements in an exciting array of technologies – new lightweight materials from Detroit, next generation power electronics from North Carolina, advancements in digital manufacturing and design in Chicago, 3-D printing disruptions from Youngstown, and who knows what else.
It has the potential to breathe new life into American manufacturing and really set off the resurgence we've been waiting for.
But only if it goes as planned.
These new groups have a lot of work ahead of them, a lot of investments to make and a lot of systems to create. After all, these are high potential, highly funded hubs created out of nothing in the center of a highly charged political spotlight.
With so much invested in these centers and so much resting on their outcome, we turned to one of the real experts in innovation – MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological – to see how, and if, they can succeed.