Indeed, economists like John Zysman, co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy and co-author of the 1987 book, Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-Industrial Economy, argue that the focus of global competition has shifted to specific phases of high-tech production rather than on particular market sectors. As production clusters around key points in the production process, Zysman said the intellectual property that adds value to products remains with Western manufacturers.
Tighter linkages among product designers, manufacturers, and their associated supply chains are also seen as innovative ways to add value to the manufacturing process. Zysman and other experts who study the decline of US manufacturing stress that it is the ability to generate new intellectual property and add value to products during the manufacturing process that are among the key innovations needed to revive US manufacturing.
Dave Lentz, supply chain solutions program manager with Avnet Inc., said that the electronic components distributor is working to deliver supply innovations that will help manufacturers cope with shrinking product cycles and the resulting need to get products to market sooner.
The role of government in fostering innovation remains a subject of sharp debate. A recent hearing before the House Science Committee panel on technology and innovation underscored the partisan divisions over the government’s role in promoting innovations. “We should enact policies that ensure this country remains the best place to launch or expand a business,” Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., the subcommittee’s chairman, said during the hearing. “Excessive regulations and red tape increase the cost of doing business and create uncertainty for private sector companies.”
Several members of the DESIGN West panel agreed with that view, arguing that the government’s role is to get out of their way. Others said the best way for Washington to foster innovation was to create a level playing field in global markets. “What I want from my government is to break down market barriers” that make it harder to compete in the global electronics industry, said Jeff Lawson, an embedded design engineer with Shockwave Impact.
Truchard of National Instruments stressed that, despite heavy private investment in areas like clean technology, there is a continuing government role in supporting “precompetitive research” needed to generate the next round of US innovation.
This story was originally posted by EE Times.