U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Addresses the National Economic Council Manufacturing USA Event


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Today, at the White House, U.S. Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews addressed the Manufacturing USA stakeholder event recognizing the success of the Manufacturing USA program.  The event included a new institute announcement from DOD, new institute highlights from the Departments of Commerce and Energy, and success stories from existing Manufacturing USA institutes.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon, and thank you for that kind introduction, Jason. Both Secretary Pritzker and I have enjoyed working with you, Jeff, and the entire NEC team on so many efforts – including Manufacturing USA. Today’s event is particularly gratifying to the Department of Commerce. So many members of our team helped move Manufacturing USA from idea to initiative to now a growing network of institutes driving innovation across our country.

Too many names come to mind – but among them are past and present leaders of our National Institutes for Standards and Technology – like Pat Gallagher and Dr. Willie May – as well as Phil Singerman, Mike Molnar, and the entire NIST team. I also want to recognize Erin Sparks in our Office of Policy and Strategic Planning. And finally, I want to congratulate my colleagues at the Departments of Defense and Energy on the launch of their new institutes and thank them for their vision, partnership, and dedication. 

Some of you may know that I used to work at Ford Motor Company. I know from my time there how essential manufacturing is to our economy. Throughout the 20th century, manufacturers helped grow the most prosperous middle class ever known and established the United States as the world leader in innovation.

But to stay ahead of the competition in the 21st century, we must build a manufacturing sector that is more collaborative, more innovative, and more agile than ever before. That’s why President Obama launched Manufacturing USA. And the Department of Commerce plays two distinct roles in this effort.

First, we serve as the link between the institutes that make Manufacturing USA a truly national network – bringing leaders in entirely different fields together to share best practices in areas like skills training, supply chain management, and technology deployment. Second, the Department of Commerce is the only federal agency authorized to set up new institutes that are entirely industry-driven.

Throughout 2016, NIST evaluated proposals from all sectors of our economy to determine the focus of our first Commerce-led institute. And just last week, Secretary Pritzker traveled to the University of Delaware to announce the launch of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals – or NIIMBL.

Biologics represent a new frontier in pharmaceuticals. These drugs have the potential to save millions of lives around the world, to spur job creation and investment across our country, and to enhance America’s competitive edge globally.  Yet there are unique challenges that impede industry innovation and the pace of all this progress. 

First of all, the science behind biologics is more complex – so the drugs are more expensive to make. And companies face high compliance costs at every stage of development, approval, and production.  Make no mistake: we all depend on strong FDA regulations to ensure that the medications we take are safe and effective. That’s why NIIMBL will work to advance innovation without compromising safety.

This institute will serve as a collaborative space for cutting-edge companies and the brightest minds in biologics to come together and solve pressing challenges. In doing so, we will spread the risks and rewards of development and production across the biopharmaceuticals manufacturing sector.

The Department of Commerce will invest $70 million in NIIMBL, with $129 million in matching funds from companies, universities, and research facilities across 25 states. Together, our partners will improve processes for the development and production of new biologics.

These efforts won’t just reduce costs and increase efficiency for manufacturers – they will ultimately accelerate the availability of innovative new therapies for patients. 

When it comes to biologics, being NIIMBL is more than just a clever name. It’s a necessity. Unlike traditional drugs that can sit on our shelves for years, hospitals and pharmacies cannot stockpile biologics in anticipation of a future crisis. Whether it’s a new antibiotic resistant infection or the spread of a new strain of the flu, companies must be able to quickly scale up production in the event of a public health threat.

Of course, we cannot produce the drug treatments of tomorrow without cultivating the right skills in our workforce today. That’s why the Department of Commerce has made STEM education and workforce development a top priority for Manufacturing USA and for NIIMBL.

Jobs in biopharmaceutical manufacturing pay nearly twice the national average. And even with the unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, nearly all Americans agree that we must get more people earning larger paychecks. That begins with equipping the workers of today and tomorrow with the skills needed for the jobs of the future.

Through NIIMBL, we will develop industry-relevant college courses, create new internships, and facilitate faculty sabbaticals that meet the technical needs of companies. Finally, we’ll support STEM education programs at the K-12 level in diverse communities nationwide – building a pipeline of talent for the future of manufacturing.

Our Department is excited about our first institute and committed to helping our partners fully realize the promise of biopharmaceuticals. By bringing the best minds in biologics together, businesses across this sector will benefit from process improvements, greater workforce preparedness, and advancements in applied research.

Between last week’s launch and today’s announcement, Manufacturing USA now spans 12 institutes with more than 1,300 partners, with more to come.

This initiative is smart government at work – proving what’s possible when we unite leaders across industry, academia, and government behind a common purpose. We solve challenges and seize opportunities. We strengthen supply chains and advance innovation. And ultimately, we make our communities and our companies more competitive globally.

I can’t wait to see the Manufacturing USA network grow and flourish in the coming years. And I can’t wait to learn about the drug therapies produced, the jobs created, and the investments spurred by NIIMBL.

To tell you more about it, I now have the pleasure of introducing two leaders with our new institute. Let’s all give a warm welcome to NIIMBL Director Kelvin Lee as well Jorg Thommes, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology at Biogen. 

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