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Council on Competitiveness Report Says America’s Innovation Leadership is in Jeopardy

Top University Presidents and National Laboratory Directors Highlight Critical Role of Manufacturing in Boosting Innovation

June 12, 2011

WASHINGTON — Leaders from nearly three dozen top universities and national laboratories say that America must make radical changes in its manufacturing policy to maintain its innovation leadership, in a report released today by the Council on Competitiveness. Ignite 2.0: Voices of American University Presidents and National Lab Directors on Manufacturing Competitiveness calls for a stronger partnership between research and manufacturing - especially manufacturing at scale, improved vocational and STEM education and a commitment to supporting higher education and science.
 
The report’s findings were unveiled by the Council’s leadership at the Detroit Economic Club, and reflect the views of America’s premier research university presidents, including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Dr. Susan Hockfield.  Directors of five national laboratories were also surveyed for the report.

University presidents and national laboratory leaders broadly agree that manufacturing plays a critical role in the innovation ecosystem. “The United States must develop and articulate a globally competitive, long-term innovation and manufacturing strategy that sets inspirational goals and demonstrates to the world that America is without a doubt in the business of innovation and ‘making things’,” the report says.
 
The Council’s 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness index indicated that the U.S. ranks fourth in global competitiveness behind China, India, and South Korea, and is expected to fall to number five, much due to outdated manufacturing policies and a lack of investment.  This year, China became the global leader in manufacturing output by dollar amount, ending America’s 110 year run as the world’s top manufacturer.
 
“America’s ability to innovate is dependent upon its ability to maintain a robust manufacturing sector and a highly skilled workforce,” said Council President & CEO Deborah Wince-Smith. “A strong industrial base is vital to creating a vibrant manufacturing ecosystem that creates new jobs and new industries to grow the U.S. economy.”
 
The report is the second in a three-part Ignite series to be released by the Council’s U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative (USMCI). The initiative drew insights from America’s leading CEOs in the first report, and will feature labor leaders in the third installment in the series. The USMCI is focused on developing a comprehensive National Manufacturing Strategy to deliver to Congress and the Administration at a national summit in December 2011.
 
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The Council on Competitiveness is a leadership organization comprised of CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders working to ensure U.S. prosperity. The Council has one goal: to strengthen America’s competitive advantage by acting as a catalyst for innovative public policy solutions that addresses America’s major competitive challenges and capitalize on its unique strengths.

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