Guest blog post by Barb Ewing, Chief Operating Officer for the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Scott Deutsch, Manager, Communications & Special Programs for the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining
Youngstown Business Incubator is home to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (“America Makes”), the pilot program for the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.
Too often, when we think about manufacturing, we think of large, multi-national corporations that once dominated the economic landscape. However, as corporations continue to downsize and revamp operations, Small to Mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly becoming the life blood of the nation’s manufacturing economy.
Large companies generally have the extra resources – both human and financial -to assume the risks associated with adopting new technologies. They view these investments as critical to becoming more efficient and flexible on a global scale. While the leadership at smaller firms may also recognize the potential benefits, limited technical expertise in house, challenges with their workforce and small (or nonexistent) capital budgets make it more difficult for SMEs to make those same kind of investments.
That’s where the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) can come into play. The NNMI are public private partnerships aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. Each institute in the network is an exciting new collaboration space for industry and academia to speed up innovation. They are positioned to “bridge the gap” between basic research and industry needs. The focus is to de-risk and scale up new materials and processes to solve the priority problems of industry.