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Ignite 2.0: Voices of American University Presidents and National Lab Directors on Manufacturing Competitiveness

Ignite 2.0 provides recommendations on improving U.S. manufacturing competitiveness via talent-driven innovation, education and advanced skills development, as well as research, science, technology, innovation and full life-cycle commercialization.

The Council on Competitiveness, Compete.org (6/14/2011)
In June 2010, the Council on Competitiveness launched its U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative (USMCI) to address the challenges facing domestic manufacturers and to advance the dialogue, policies, and programs neces¬sary to ensure the long-term health of U.S. manufacturing. The Council believes that a vibrant, diversified, technologically advanced manufacturing sector is necessary for the creation of American jobs and economic growth, as well as prosperity, energy sustainability, and national security.

In order to gain insight needed to advance its efforts, the Council undertook an interview process - in conjunction with Deloitte - of diverse leadership groups across the nation. Earlier this year, the Council released Ignite 1.0: Voice of American CEOs on Manufacturing Competitiveness, based on a series of interviews conducted by Deloitte in the fall of 2010 with some 40 CEOs/senior executives at some of the largest U.S.-based manufacturing firms.

The Council has now released Ignite 2.0: Voices of American University Presidents and National Lab Directors on Manufacturing Competitiveness, based on Deloitte's interviews with 30 leaders of colleges, universities, and national laboratories. Ignite 2.0 provides recommendations on improving U.S. manufacturing competitiveness via talent-driven innovation, education and advanced skills development, as well as research, science, technology, innovation and full life-cycle commercialization.

The university presidents and lab leaders interviewed by Deloitte - as well as the manufacturing executives previously interviewed - recognize that manufacturing is critical to America's competitiveness in the 21st century. In fact, both groups put forth the following recommendations:

  • Benchmark best practices from other countries and reform immigration policies to better attract the world's most advanced work force, and retain foreign talent educated in American universities upon graduation.

  • Advance performance-based legislation and incentives like the America COMPETES Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Investing in Innovation, Race to the Top, and Teacher Incentive funds.

  • Develop federal and state programs that pro¬mote and market manufacturing as a high-value, vital industry with rewarding long-term career opportunities for high school and college students in the United States.

  • Establish a consortium of business, university, labor, and public sector leaders to develop strategic long-term goals with a 15- to 20-year development horizon around science, technology, and manufacturing.

  • Fuel private investment by ensuring globally competitive corporate tax rates and by strengthening and making permanent R&D tax credits, especially for U.S.-based innovation.

  • Tax credits should address both human capital and include support for continuing education for scientists and engineers, as well as R&D equipment and infrastructure to ensure the U.S. remains an attractive destination for long-term investment in innovation and manufacturing.

All of the leaders interviewed for Ignite 2.0 expressed optimism and excitement about the long-term opportunities for the U.S. manufacturing sector. They believe that it is important to raise awareness of how "making things" is crucial to the U.S. economy and that manufacturing competitiveness should be among the nation's top priorities.

In the coming months, the Council is expected to release Ignite 3.0, which will highlight the perspectives of U.S. labor leaders.

In addition, this year marks the Council on Competitiveness' 25th anniversary. To commemorate this historic occasion, the Council will honor its tradition of excellence by convening America's most influential leaders at a gala in Washington, D.C., on December 7, followed by a National Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit on December 8, which will harness the insight of the nation's premier decision-makers to forge a new path toward sustained American prosperity.
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