Software Employment Rises 45% in 10 Years, as Angst in Engineering Grows

Computer World
The decline in engineering employment is a clear reflection of the U.S. losing the race for global innovation advantage in manufacturing.

Waiting for Onshoring

July 17, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

To listen to most discussions of U.S. manufacturing these days one would not be faulted for believing that we have turned the ship of decline around, that production jobs are coming back and that the on-shoring good times are finally here. Unfortunately this storyline does not hold up to critical analysis.

Top US States for New Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing in the U.S. declined more in the last decade than it did in the Great Depression.

Singapore Looks to a National Productivity Strategy to Maintain Growth

June 17, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

Singapore has a remarkable history of economic growth, proving doubters wrong. Currently they are pursuing a range of deliberate policies to help private industry increase productivity and keep the small nation competitive and growing.

“Fab Lab” Bill Would Stimulate Manufacturing Innovation

April 29, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced The National Fab Lab Network Act of 2013 (H.R. 1289), which would create a federal charter for a non-profit organization called “The National Fab Lab Network” (NFLN). NFLN would act as a public-private partnership whose purpose is to facilitate the creation of a national network of fab labs and serve as a resource to assist stakeholders with their effective operation. As ITIF writes in Fifty Ways to Leave Your Competitiveness Woes Behind: A National Traded Sector Competitiveness Strategy, there are several additional steps policymakers should take to foster the maker movement in addition to supporting Congressman Foster’s Fab Lab bill.

Technology is Not the Problem — It Is the Solution

April 25, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

While productivity-enhancing technologies sometimes result in short-term job loss, rather than make misguided arguments, pundits should embrace technology-led productivity, while at the same time promoting policies that can assist workers in adjusting to the changing environment. This includes stronger investments in retraining and applied technology programs and reforms to our current unemployment safety net, which is full of holes. Fundamentally, the continued expansion of technology and innovation is necessary for the growth and expansion of 21st century society. By embracing the machine we are all better off.

Robots Are Good for Us: Really, They Are!

April 19, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

The widely held belief that automation is responsible for manufacturing decline is false, and it's time to recognize that these claims are being held up by nothing more than neoclassical economic thought 

What’s the Right Path for Manufacturing?

April 16, 2013
| Blogs & Op-eds

Any effective manufacturing strategy has to include a robust “tech and talent” initiative, which would include a fully funded NNMI, a new system of “manufacturing universities” that promote training and applied research, stronger tax incentives for companies to invest in R&D, workforce training and new machinery and equipment.

Congress should direct NSF to establish stronger university entrepreneurship metrics and use them to provide stronger incentives for universities to commercialize research.

Congress should direct the National Science Foundation, working in partnership with National Institute of Standards and Technology, to develop a metric by which universities report entrepreneurship and commercialization information annually. The reports should include data on faculty new business starts, spin-offs of new companies from universities, license agreements and patenting, and industrial funding of research. Congress should further direct all major federal research funding agencies to factor these performance metrics into their decisions to award research funds to a university or university researcher. Applicants from universities that successfully promote entrepreneurial spin-offs/start-ups or that receive more in industry research funding would be more likely to have their principal investigator grants funded.

Congress should create an “Innovation Voucher” program operated by NIST.

Almost a dozen countries—including Austria, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Sweden—use innovation vouchers (ranging in value from $5,000 to $30,000) to spur R&D, new product development, and innovation activity in traded-sector SME firms by enabling them to “buy” expertise from universities, national laboratories, or public research institutes for assistance with preparatory studies, analysis of technology transfer, analysis of the innovation potential of a new technology, etc. The vouchers both spur innovation in SMEs and stimulate knowledge transfer from universities and research institutions to SMEs. In the United States, innovation vouchers could be introduced at either the federal or state level, but Congress should facilitate their introduction by authorizing $20 million to NIST to fund a pilot program operated by select states that agree to match the funding dollar for dollar. As a potential source of funds to keep this option revenue-neutral, one option would be to take 0.5 percent of the current allocation to national laboratories to fund the vouchers.
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