U.S. President Barack Obama announced the creation Monday of a new initiative that intends to help revitalize the U.S. manufacturing industry by spurring innovations in a sector described as "smart manufacturing."
Speaking before business leaders at the annual SelectUSA Summit in Washington, Obama said a coalition of 200 partners will receive $140 million in public and private funding to "radically improve" the efficiency of manufacturing by developing smart sensor and digital technologies that dramatically cut waste, save energy and streamline manufacturing processes.
The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition received $70 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) and $70 million in private donations. The coalition, comprised of industry, academic and non-profit representatives, will lead the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute in partnership with the DOE. Software innovations will be available on an open source platform, making them accessible to business of all sizes.
"No country can match our competitiveness in cutting-edge manufacturing. No country is home to entrepreneurs or more super-computing. No country has done more to build a culture of making and tinkering, and entrepreneurship and risk taking, and of innovation and invention," the president said.
Nearly six million manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010 as companies closed factories and relocated to foreign countries with lower costs. That number represented more than one third of the entire American manufacturing workforce.
Since February 2010, more than 800,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs were created as the auto industry grew and manufacturing costs escalated in foreign countries.
The new manufacturing hub, headquartered in the western U.S. city of Los Angeles, California, is the ninth of 15 such projects Obama wants to create.
During a week focused on innovation, Obama will also attend a global entrepreneurship summit at Stanford University, when he will participate in a panel discussion with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and others.