Manufacturing Innovation Bill Advances in Senate

A Senate bill to expand the creation of manufacturing research hubs cleared its first hurdle today when it was passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act,” S. 1468, would authorize the Department of Commerce to create a series of public-private research centers designed to promote innovation in advanced manufacturing. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

“Our workers can compete against anyone in the world,” Brown said in announcing the committee action. “Establishing a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation would create thousands of jobs and ensure the United States remains the global leader in advanced manufacturing.”

The research centers proposed in S. 1468 would be modeled on the manufacturing hubs established by President Obama using existing funds redirected from other agencies as well as private contributions.

In August 2012, the president announced the creation of the pilot hub, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio. NAMII was initially funded with $30 million from the Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce. A group of manufacturers, research universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations contributed an additional $40 million to the partnership. The institute, now known as America Makes, was envisioned as the first of 15 such hubs.

In January 2014, the administration announced that a Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, funded by the Department of Energy and other donors, would be created in Raleigh, N.C.

In February, the Obama administration followed up with announcements of two additional institutes – one in the Detroit area focused on lightweight materials manufacturing and another in Chicago dedicated to digital manufacturing and design technologies. The institutes will receive $140 million in funding from the Department of Defense and more than $140 million from non-federal resources.

The administration has also announced a new competition for an Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute, led by the Department of Energy, which would “improve our ability to manufacture advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites at the production speed, cost and performance needed for widespread use in clean energy products including fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, wind turbines and hydrogen and natural gas storage tanks.”

A companion bill to S. 1468 was introduced in the House (H.R. 2996) by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. It was referred to committee on August 2, 2013.

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