Advanced Manufacturing - The New American Innovation Policies
William B. Bonvillian
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In his recent book, Advanced Manufacturing - The New American Innovation Policies, William B. Bonvillian along with Peter L. Singer has examined the context of American manufacturing decline and the social disruption it led to, including the difficulty of bringing innovation into a complex, established “legacy” economic sector like manufacturing.
The United States lost almost one-third of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010. As higher-paying manufacturing jobs are replaced by lower-paying service jobs, income inequality has been approaching third world levels. Innovation has been left largely to software and IT startups, and increasingly U.S. firms operate on a system of “innovate here/produce there,” leaving the manufacturing sector behind.
In their book, Bonvillian and Singer explore how to rethink innovation and revitalize America’s declining manufacturing sector. They argue that advanced manufacturing, which employs such innovative technologies as 3-D printing, advanced materials, photonics, and robotics in the production process, is the key. They discuss transformative new production paradigms that could drive up efficiency and drive down costs, describe the new processes and business models that must accompany them, and explore alternative funding methods for startups that must manufacture. They examine the varied attitudes of mainstream economics toward manufacturing, the post-Great Recession policy focus on advanced manufacturing, and lessons from the new advanced manufacturing institutes. They consider the problem of “startup scaleup,” possible new models for training workers, and the role of manufacturing in addressing “secular stagnation” in innovation, growth, the middle classes, productivity rates, and related investment. As recent political turmoil shows, the stakes could not be higher.
William B. Bonvillian is a Lecturer at MIT and a research advisor at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning and its Industrial Policy Center. He is working on research projects on the role of states and regions in energy storage policy and on workforce education. From 2006 until 2017, he was director of MIT’s Washington office, supporting MIT’s historic role in science policy with federal R&D agencies. He teaches courses on innovation systems at MIT and on energy technology policy at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and he is coauthor of three books on innovation: Advanced Manufacturing – The New American Innovation Policies (MIT Press, 2017), Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors (Oxford University Press, 2015), and Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution (MIT Press, 2009). Previously, he worked for over 15 years on innovation issues as a senior advisor in the U.S. Senate and earlier was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation. He serves on the National Academies of Science standing committee for its Innovation Policy Forum, the Committee on Science and Engineering Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the board of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He has degrees from Columbia, Yale, and Columbia Law. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association forthe Advancement of Science, received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ public service award, and has written and spoken extensively about science and technology and innovation policy issues.
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