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Manufacturing Innovation: Gaining the Advantage In a Fiercely Competitive Global Economy

Manufacturing Innovation: Gaining the Advantage In a Fiercely Competitive Global Economy

Guest blog post by Mike Molnar, Director, Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office and NIST Advanced Manufacturing Program Office 

Good ideas—for new products, new processes, or new services—are terrible things to waste.

Yet, time and time again, inventions and discoveries that first sprouted in the U.S. have taken root in the factories and economies of other nations. Think of computer-controlled machine tools, solar cells, industrial robots, consumer-electronics devices, lithium-ion batteries . . .

To many, the list is painfully familiar. And the costs are too: lost jobs, shuttered manufacturing plants, withering supply chains, trade deficits, lost opportunities for spin-off technologies, and more.

But wait, a far better story for U.S. manufacturing is beginning to take shape.  Over the past five years, U.S. manufacturers have added an average of nearly 15,000 new jobs every month, and exports have grown at an average annual rate of 10 percent—or more than three times faster than the average for the preceding decade.

And now, U.S. industry and the federal government are taking deliberate strides to seize and maintain an innovation advantage in the fiercely competitive global economy. One key step is the establishment of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), accomplished with the inclusion of the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act in the government funding bill passed by Congress last December.

This young partnership, consisting of regional hubs of manufacturing innovation, is devoted to the economy- growing principle that if a technology is invented in the U.S., we should do our very best to make it here.  The NNMI institutes will leverage the individual and collective knowledge, talents, capabilities, and resources of industry, university, and government partners. These collaborations will cultivate promising discoveries and ideas into new technologies and into cost-effective ways to convert these innovations into American-made products sold to customers around the world.

There’s no time to waste. The competition has a head start. China, Korea, Germany, Taiwan, and other nations intent on building innovation-driven economies already have mounted major programs and the supporting infrastructure to sustain long-term collaborations—the kind required to speed research breakthroughs into proofs of concept, then prototypes, and, ultimately, manufacturable products and related services.

Understanding and Measuring Innovation Ecosystems at the Global Innovation Summit

Understanding and Measuring Innovation Ecosystems at the Global Innovation Summit

Guest blog post by Tom Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairsl, U.S. Economic Development Administration 

There’s a lot of talk these days about “innovation ecosystems,” but what is an innovation ecosystem? What does it mean? Think about the ultimate ecosystem: earth. When we refer to the earth’s ecosystem, we are talking about the interconnectivity of animal, plant, and elements that sustain life. Well, an innovation ecosystem is the same idea. It’s everything in the environment, including and especially culture, that work together to foster and sustain innovation. How we create those ecosystems is at the core of the Global Innovation Summit, taking place this week in San Jose, California. 

The Global Innovation Summit is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and those that support them from 50+ countries to come together to build solutions, apply new tools to accelerate innovation, and learn from one another. There are three central questions the summit seeks to answer: 

  • How do we build entrepreneurial ecosystems anywhere? 
  • How do we catalyze innovation across companies, cities and countries sustainably?
  • How do we accelerate entrepreneurship, technology and impact at scale? 

These are all questions that the U.S. Economic Development Administration grapples with every day. I am thrilled, therefore, to be participating and learning with over 500 innovators at the Summit, and to explore some of these issues in the two sessions I was asked to moderate: Design of Startup Ecosystems and Measuring, Understanding, and Driving Innovation Culture. 

What goes in to creating an innovation ecosystem? How do you create culture? Can you create a culture? Our discussion will examine several case studies in an attempt to answer these questions. I will be talking to Prafull Anubhai from Ahmedabad University in India about how he helped foster a culture of innovation through VentureStudio, and Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez from the Inter-American Development Bank, who will discuss how they have used innovation to address the development challenges in Latin America. 

I will be joined by Julie Kirk, the Director of EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for my second session on measuring, understanding, and driving innovation culture. The session is jointly sponsored by Commerce, EDA, and T2 Venture Creation and will include Henry Doss and Alistair Brett the Chief Strategy Officer and International Technology Commercialization Advisor, respectively, for T2 Venture Creation. Julie will bring her experiences as an entrepreneur to bear on the conversation, highlighting her successes. The four of us will tackle the complex undertaking of building a strong culture of innovation and probably challenge a few misconceptions about how to go about designing and innovation ecosystem within an organization. 

I look forward to engaging discussions, thought-provoking debates, and collaborative opportunities during the Summit that will help us create a more innovative culture, economy, and world.

DOC Operating Status for Feburary 17, 2015

Categories:

This message applies to Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 

In accordance with the Office of Personnel Management’s Operating Status, Department of Commerce offices in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED.  Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their bureau/operating unit’s policies, including written telework agreements.

Non-emergency employees will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:

  • required to telework,
  • on official travel outside of the Washington, DC area,
  • on pre-approved leave (including leave without pay), or
  • on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.

Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their bureau/operating unit’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their bureau/operating unit.

More information and details on Operating Status can be viewed online at http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/current-status/.

Personnel may also contact the DOC Status Line at 202-482-7400 for recorded updates regarding changes in the Department of Commerce’s operating status.

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited DODOcase, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of high-quality cases for electronics like tablets and smart phones.  During her tour of the company’s manufacturing facility, Secretary Pritzker met with company executives and spoke with other San Francisco area business leaders and policymakers about the importance of trade and exports to businesses' ability to grow and hire. 

DODOcase CEO and founder Craig Dalton lead the tour with Secretary Pritzker. During the tour Secretary Prtizker met with DODOcase staff and talked to many of them as they designed  iPad and tablet cases. 

Dalton launched DODOcase in 2010 after seeing a need to keep the art of bookbinding alive by adapting it to the world of digital devices. DODOcases and sleeves are handmade in San Francisco. When the company opened its doors in April 2010 - the same day iPad was released in the United States - they only had two employees. Today, their workforce has grown to 22 workers and they ship their products all around the world. From day one, 30 percent of DODOcase's business has been to customers overseas, which means that, from the start, exports have been part of the company's business model and success.  

Also joining Secretary Pritzker for the tour, were several San Francisco business community leaders including  John Dannerbeck, the President of Anchor Brewing. Anchor Brewing is a brewery and distillery on San Francisco’s Pontero Hill. Today the company sends its fourteen products to several markets around the world. While not a traditional export product, craft beer export volume increased by 49 percent in 2013, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated at $73 million, according to data from the American Brewers Association. Secretary Pritzker also met with Kate Sofis, Executive Director of SFMade. SFMade is a non-profit organization that works to support the manufacturing sector in San Francisco, sustain companies producing locally-made products, encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce in the Bay Area. The San Francisco metropolitan area is the 10th largest export market in the country, with merchandise exports totaling $25.3 billion in 2013 and more than 802,000 California jobs are supported by exports. 

Last week, the Department of Commerce announced that 2014 was another record year for export growth. The U.S. exported $2.35 trillion of goods and service last year. Today, exports support 11 million jobs in the U.S. and pay up to 18 percent more than jobs not related to exports. 

Yet with 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, the prosperity of American businesses and workers is directly tied to their ability to reach new markets and new customers. That is why President Obama has made increased trade a key focus on his plan to create sustainable economic growth for American workers, and is pushing for trade promotion legislation as well as the completion of new, high-standard trade agreements that uphold our values and open new markets to American goods and services– including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Report to the President on America’s National Travel and Tourism Goal

Report to the President on America’s National Travel and Tourism Goal

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson 

Over the last five years, more than 333 million international visitors have traveled to the United States. Growth in spending from these visitors during this period has supported roughly 280,000 new American jobs. Preliminary estimates show the U.S. welcomed a record 74 million international visitors in 2014 alone, and these travelers spent a record $222 billion on expenses including food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, and local transportation, supporting 1.1 million jobs.

The United States is not alone in our efforts to attract international visitors and the jobs they support.We are competing with countless global destinations; therefore, the Obama Administration is focused on efforts to improve how we welcome travelers into the United States. For example, we have reduced visa wait times for international travelers and reached a new agreement with China that extends the validity of tourist and business visas to 10 years and student visas to five years. In the three months since this smart reform was enacted, Chinese demand for U.S. visas has grown by more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2014 .

We are taking these actions and others to ensure the travel experience is safe, efficient, and welcoming, while also protecting the security of this country. We want to travelers to return to the U.S. often and encourage their friends and families to visit, as well. 

Today, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security released a report to President Obama, titled “Supporting Travel and Tourism to Grow Our Economy and Create More Jobs: a National Goal on the International Arrivals Process and Airport-Specific Action Plans.” The report establishes a national goal: “The United States will provide a best-in-class arrival experience, as compared to our global competitors, to an ever-increasing number of international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security.” This goal was developed through extensive consultation with leaders from the airline, hospitality and travel industries, airport authorities, and state and local governments.

The report contains more than just a goal. To ensure success, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security are establishing a new interagency task force, co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security, which will engage with a broad array of industry stakeholders to identify the factors that drive a traveler’s perception of the international arrivals experience and decision to visit the United States. We will assess the arrivals process from planedisembarkment to primary passport inspection and baggage collection to exiting the airport through final baggage inspection, and the task force will use the results of the assessments to inform ongoing improvement of the arrivals process.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics for Valentine's Day

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics for Valentine's Day

Expressing one’s love to another is a celebrated custom on Valentine’s Day. Sweethearts and family members present gifts to one another, such as cards, candy, flowers and other symbols of affection. Opinions differ as to who was the original Valentine, but the most popular theory is that he was a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome. In A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine Day. Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced valentine cards in the 1840s. The spirit continues today with even young children exchanging valentine’s cards with their fellow classmates. Following are some key statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in recognition of Valentine's Day.

Candy

1,379

Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate products in 2012, employing 37,998 people. California led the nation with 152 of these establishments, followed by New York, with 119.

Flowers

14,344

The total number of florist establishments nationwide in 2012. These businesses employed 62,397 people.

Giving Love a Second Chance

19.2%

Among people 15 and older who have been married, the percentage of men and women in 2013 who have been married twice, and 5.3 percent have been married three or more times. By comparison, 75.5 percent of people who have been married have done so just once.

“Please Be Mine”

 29.0 and 26.6 years 

Median age at first marriage in 2013 for men and women, respectively.

For more more key statistics, please visit the U.S. Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

Hack Housing Spurs Private Sector Innovation through Open Data

Hack Housing Spurs Private Sector Innovation through Open Data (Photo Credit: Zillow)

Guest blog post by Shula Markland, Senior Data Architect, Office of the Chief Information Office, HUD and Jeff Meisel, Presidential Innovation Fellow, U.S. Census Bureau 

On February 6-8, over 200 software developers, designers and makers gathered at the Zillow headquarters in downtown Seattle for “Hack Housing”, a hackathon co-hosted by Zillow and the University of Washington. Teams of programmers spent the weekend using open data to build apps that help people find affordable, accessible places to live – and pitching their products in competition for a $10,000 top prize. Zillow Co-Founder Rich Barton, former White House Deputy CTO Nick Sinai, and Lisa Wolters from the Seattle Housing Authority kicked off the event on Friday. The 72-hour jam session also featured an inspiring video message from Nani Coloretti, Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

Zillow uses open data from multiple federal agencies including HUD, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Census Bureau, to deliver insights and information on housing, schools, and communities as part of their living database of more than 110 million homes. 

“The Hack Housing event is a blueprint for how government can use our valuable open data assets to help bring private sector innovation to tackle key policy challenges, such as helping seniors age in their homes and connecting low income renters and first time home buyers to housing opportunities,” according to Lynn Overmann, Deputy Chief Data Officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Bringing together thought-leaders from industry, academia and local, state, and federal government can generate really compelling product ideas to help solve some of our most difficult housing issues and also drive economic impact.” 

The teams at Hack Housing focused on user-centered design to address the needs of specific sets of users, including first-time homebuyers, older Americans and lower-income families. The White House, U.S. Department of Commerce, HUD, Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Census Bureau supported the event by providing know-how and open datasets. 

NOAA Launches New Deep Space Solar Monitoring Satellite

NOAA Launches New Deep Space Solar Monitoring Satellite

NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, last night at 6:03 p.m. EST on its way to an orbit one million miles from Earth. DSCOVR will give NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor potentially harmful solar activity.

When it reaches its final destination about 110 days from now, and after it completes a series of initialization checks, DSCOVR will be the nation’s first operational satellite in deep space, orbiting between Earth and the Sun at a point called the Lagrange point, or L1. It will take its place at L1 alongside NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) research satellite, replacing the 17-year old ACE as America’s primary warning system for solar magnetic storms headed towards Earth. Meanwhile, ACE will continue its important role in space weather research. 

Data from DSCOVR, coupled with a new forecast model that is set to come online later this year, will enable NOAA forecasters to predict geomagnetic storm magnitude on a regional basis. Geomagnetic storms occur when plasma and magnetic fields streaming from the sun impact Earth’s magnetic field. Large magnetic eruptions from the sun have the potential to bring major disruptions to power grids, aviation, telecommunications, and GPS systems. 

According to the National Academies of Sciences, a major solar storm has the potential to cost upwards of $2 trillion, disrupting telecommunications, GPS systems, and the energy grid.  As the nation’s space weather prediction agency, when DSCOVR is fully operational and our new space weather forecast models are in place, we will be able to provide vital information to industries and communities to help them prepare for these storms.

Northern California MBDA Business Centers Help Minority Entrepreneurs Enter Technology Transfer, Innovation Market

The San Francisco Minority Business Development Center signs partnership agreement with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in August, 2014.

Guest blog post by the San Francisco MBDA Business Center 

Led by National Director Alejandra Castillo, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has been collaborating with the San Francisco MBDA Business Center (SFMBC), operated by ASIAN, Inc., to advance a groundbreaking technology transfer and innovation agenda.   

The SFMBC, along with its sister San Jose and Fresno MBDA Business Centers, serve the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, which is universally recognized as one of the world’s leading regions for technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Minority business entrepreneurs (MBEs) in this region are not short of innovative ideas and are all too eager to gain access to cutting-edge technologies from national laboratories and universities, especially in life sciences, IT, and clean technology sectors. We’re working diligently to get those MBEs into these emerging markets. 

In September 2014, the SFMBC began piloting MBDA’s strategic Technology Transfer and Innovation Program. Closely working with Director Castillo, we designed our pilot model to engage regional MBEs with technology transfer and innovation concepts in an effort to connect them with U.S. and international investors, including angel investors and venture capital firms, and conventional funding, as well as to assist them with developing strategic commercialization channels. 

To increase awareness among local and regional MBEs and partners we jointly launched the initiative with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)Keiretsu Forum, and other professional service partners in October 2014 at our regional 2014 Minority Enterprise Development Week conference in San Jose. 

At the invitation of Director Castillo, the San Francisco team also brought in its partners and presented the pilot model to national-level MBE audiences at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s "Innovations in STEM: National Priorities and NIST" Symposium in November 2014. 

As members of the Keiretsu Forum, the San Francisco and San Jose MBDA Business Center team actively participated in the Forum’s Angel Capital Expo that same month, connecting with regional MBEs and over 500 angel investors worldwide. In January 2015, the team was invited to the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, a gateway to connecting foreign investors with investment opportunities in cutting-edge U.S. technologies in life sciences. 

Supporting Wireless Innovation Through a “Model City”

Supporting Wireless Innovation Through a “Model City”

The United States is fast becoming a wireless nation. The demand for wireless devices in all sectors of our lives – from smartphones to smart utility meters – is driving the exploding demand for access to spectrum. By 2019, Cisco predicts there will be a seven-fold increase in data traffic. 

The Obama administration has been working hard to meet this demand, pledging to make 500 megahertz of additional spectrum available for mobile broadband by 2020. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which manages the federal government’s use of spectrum, has been working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies to make more federal spectrum available for commercial use. At the same time, we are working to balance the needs of federal agencies that rely on spectrum to perform a wide range of mission-critical functions – from communicating with weather satellites, to navigating passenger planes and protecting our nation’s borders. 

Meeting the sky-rocketing demand for wireless technologies has required new approaches to freeing up spectrum beyond the traditional model of clearing spectrum for exclusive commercial use. Spectrum sharing between federal and nonfederal users also has to be part of the solution. To further this effort, NTIA and the FCC sought public comment last summer on whether to launch a proposed “Model City” that could test the most advanced sharing technologies in a real-world setting. Testing these new technologies will help promote innovation in this field by enabling shared use of a variety of frequencies used by federal agencies, while at the same time supporting the development of new wireless technologies that require access to spectrum to function. 

Last month, NTIA and the FCC co-hosted a roundtable discussion at the FCC to meet with those who submitted comments on the Model City Joint Public Notice and discuss the Model City concept and   framework. Participants expressed great interest in the Model City concept as a groundbreaking way to demonstrate and evaluate innovative spectrum sharing technologies. The participants also recommended launching the proposal in more than one city. 

Moving forward, NTIA and the FCC plan to host a public workshop this spring to gather more input on the Model City concept. Among the topics the workshop is likely to explore include what types of cities would be best for testing sharing technologies, how should these model city experiments be funded, and what frequencies and applications should be part of the test? 

By looking for innovative ways and next generation technologies to meet the growing demand for spectrum while making the most efficient use of this vital resource, the United States will ensure it retains its leadership in wireless broadband innovation, which has been an important contributor to U.S. economic growth.