The manufacturing process that takes the next big idea from concept to market is one of the greatest factors propelling innovation forward — or in some cases, holding it back. Without this important step, we’d live in a world without many of the ingenious technologies that improve our daily lives and excite our imaginations, from smartwatches to self-driving vehicles. Think, for example, of all the startups based around great ideas that have attracted investment and enthusiasm, only to become mired in the manufacturing “valley of death,” unable to reach production and bring their ideas to life.

A New Model for Manufacturing Innovation

Manufacturing USA — comprised of 14 institutes and their federal sponsors, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy — has a vision for solving this “valley of death.” By convening experts from industry, academia, and the government to solve these challenges through advanced manufacturing technologies, the network fosters innovation, strengthens the U.S. economy, protects national security, and empowers the next generation.

Drastically different in scale and model than anything happening in the private sector alone, Manufacturing USA is a collaborative, large-scale approach to manufacturing innovation. Rather than racing for exclusive technology rights, the institutes provide competitors a venue to work together on projects with common objectives. This pre-competitive collaboration allows for industry and academia to share advanced manufacturing know-how, while still introducing competing products to define a bright future.

Industries and Jobs of the Future

The overarching goal of Manufacturing USA is to ensure U.S. global leadership of tomorrow’s manufacturing. Each institute focuses on furthering a different cutting-edge technology, such as computers that process at the speed of light, 3D-printed organic tissues, medicines to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer, and training to prepare workers for the manufacturing jobs of the future such as Digital Manufacturing Systems Specialists and Automated Guided Vehicle Systems Engineers.

The pace of technological change in the manufacturing sector has brought an urgent need for new skills. Taking on this hot-button issue, Manufacturing USA focuses on empowering and mobilizing a new U.S. workforce that has what it takes to tackle the manufacturing of the future. In addition to participating in Manufacturing Day each year, institutes engaged more than 200,000 workers, students, and educators in workforce development efforts by partnering with academic institutions to promote STEM learning throughout the past year.

Equipping workers with the skills they need not only helps them find their way to the well-paying manufacturing jobs, it increases the likelihood that manufacturers keep their factories in the U.S. where they can find the skilled workers they need to capitalize on emerging technologies.

The Manufacturing USA institutes are a national resource for U.S. manufacturers as they develop and deploy their advanced manufacturing strategies. The success of the network is reflected in the similar state-sponsored institutes China is standing up to remain competitive with the U.S. As global competitors implement similar strategies, it is more important now than ever to sustain a healthy, innovative American industrial base.

Paving the Way Forward Together

Like the three industrial revolutions before it, the emerging fourth industrial revolution requires both ambitious visions for the future and strategies for shaping these ideas into competitive advantages. This tipping point represents an opportunity for U.S.-based manufacturing companies to lead the next industrial revolution.

Together, Manufacturing USA aims to give U.S. manufacturers an edge as they build this brave new world. Through offering industry and government a space for collaboration, the institutes accelerate the manufacturing of tomorrow. To date, the manufacturing innovation institutes have attracted more than 1,900 member organizations, including dozens of household names such as Boeing, Ford, General Electric, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Nike, as well as hundreds of small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

These partners work together on hundreds of research and development projects involving everything from additive manufacturing to collaborative robotics to clean energy technologies to continuous biopharmaceutical production. From coast to coast, they are incubating and accelerating groundbreaking advances through manufacturing.

Speeding toward the future, Manufacturing USA ensures that U.S. manufacturing will stay ahead of the curve and invites you along for the journey. To join the conversation, visit