Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, August 13, 2022

Location and Innovation Intersect on MIT’s Manufacturing Map 

<img style="float: left;" src="http://media2.hpcwire.com/dmr/innovation.jpg" alt="" width="95" height="63" />In the wake President Obama calling for the creation of 15 manufacturing innovation hubs in his State of the Union Address earlier this month, MIT has announced the results of a two-year-long study investigating how manufacturing and innovation can build upon one another in the United States.

In the wake of President Obama calling for the creation of 15 manufacturing innovation hubs in his State of the Union Address earlier this month, MIT has announced the results of a two-year-long study investigating how manufacturing and innovation can build upon one another in the United States.

The report was issued by an MIT commission on innovation, called Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE). Most notably, they found that collaboration and risk-sharing through public-private partnerships or industry-university agreements were among the most successful efforts to jumpstart the growth of individual firms all the way to entire industries.

By speaking with representatives of 150 startups, PIE determined that proximity was key to this collaborative process, with companies preferring to be situated near other firms with complementary products and abilities. They found the same to be true for small to medium-sized manufacturers as well, due to the support that complementary resources such as training and research can offer.

If there’s a [diverse] production ecosystem, it gives them an advantage,” says Martin Schmidt, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and associate provost at MIT. “That proximity effect is incredibly valuable.”

While preserving the U.S. manufacturing base is ideal for hot topics such as defense and job creation, the researchers contend that the potential that manufacturing holds for innovation-based growth is the real selling point.

It has been suggested by previous reports that sustaining the strength of U.S. manufacturing is essential to America’s future; a strong advanced-manufacturing base is crucial to national security, and it represents a key source of good-paying jobs,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif says. “But as the PIE report makes clear, local production is very important to sustaining a vibrant innovation ecosystem in a region. Thus, we must also take steps now to regain U.S. manufacturing momentum if we want to sustain the nation’s signature economic advantage: innovation.”

Not only that, but amidst headlines describing the shrinking role of manufacturing in America, the MIT team has found that the industry is diverse and provides a launching pad from which new products and knowledge are frequently emerging.

There is no reason manufacturing has to disappear in an advanced industrial society,” says Suzanne Berger, the Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science at MIT and a co-chair of the PIE commission. “There is much greater innovative capacity all across the United States than we realized.”

Full story at MIT

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