• Amber Thomas

The Value of Public-Private Partnerships

How can manufacturing technology companies find potential partners and other resources to help them develop and commercialize new products and technologies cost effectively? You don’t need to go it alone and hire all the expertise you need in-house. There are many regional, state, and national organizations and resources that can help. Partnerships are a strategic way to determine the feasibility of a solution or to obtain resources to help scaling it, commercializing it, or successfully integrating it into a production environment. We’ll take a look at two national resources: Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program.

Manufacturing USA is a group of linked manufacturing innovation institutes, each of which is focused on a specific advanced technology with a mission to advance that technology. Each institute provides both resources and coordination to its members, and there are currently 14 institutes located throughout the United States. Although they are located in specific cities, each institute has a national scope and outreach.

Institutes focus on advanced technologies relevant to manufacturing, many of which are directly related to manufacturing materials, infrastructure, or process optimization. Areas of focus include additive manufacturing, flexible hybrid electronics, advanced robotics for manufacturing, advanced composites manufacturing, digital design and manufacturing, and lightweight materials.

Each institute enables industry, universities, and government partners to collectively leverage existing resources, collaborate on projects of mutual interest, and co-invest to nurture and advance manufacturing innovation and manufacturing technology commercialization. For more information on Manufacturing USA, visit https://www.manufacturingusa.com/institutes.

Hollings’ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program

The Hollings’ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program is another public-private resource, and it is specifically focused on providing resources to small and medium-sized businesses. There are MEP centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and larger states have multiple MEP centers. Each state MEP is built around its partnerships. Centers connect manufacturers to national and state government agencies and resources, trade associations, universities, research laboratories, and potential business partners.

Each respective state center tailors its resources and services to meet critical needs in that state. Although not exclusively focused on manufacturing technology, services supporting the advancement of MT are available in most states. They include supply chain integration, market and product development, facility expansion, technology transfer, process improvement, workforce development, and training.

Manex, the MEP for Northern California, provides training programs designed for manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain companies. Their programs include product development and innovation, supply chain development, export assistance, technology transfer using area labs and universities, and connecting manufacturers with private and public resources.

TechSolve, the MEP for Ohio, leverages its partners and expertise in machining and manufacturing to help bring emerging technologies into a larger number of manufacturing environments in that state. North Carolina has a slightly different model, and its MEP is a network of six organizations that work collectively as an alliance. For more information on the MEP program, visit https://www.nist.gov/mep.

AMT has relationships within both Manufacturing USA and the MEP program and can help point you in the right direction if you are looking to connect. Contact me at athomas@amtonline.org to learn more.

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