Leading U.S. and U.K. researchers, industry representatives and government officials discuss role of public-private partnerships in the manufacturing sector
RICHMOND, VA., October 11, 2011 – Government leaders, academics and representatives from the manufacturing industry in the U.S. and the U.K. gathered together this week in both Chicago and Arlington, Va., to discuss the importance of public-private partnerships in developing a thriving, innovative advanced manufacturing industry in the U.S. The four-day meeting, which was sponsored by the British Embassy, the British Consulate-General, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), is reflective of the federal government’s initiative to increase support for manufacturing and robotics technology as a way of creating jobs and growing the economy.
The meeting brought five advanced manufacturing research collaborations from the U.K. together with CCAM to share best practices, insights and ideas. These collaborations – which bring university researchers and global manufacturers together – exist to accelerate the transfer of laboratory research to factory innovation that can improve manufacturing processes and products. U.K. participants included the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC); the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC); the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC); the National Composites Centre (NCC); and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Other participants included CCAM member companies and universities as well as government representatives.
“The past few days have been an incredible learning opportunity for all of us,” said David R. Lohr, president and executive director of CCAM. “This marks the first time six like-minded research centers have come together to discuss international collaborations in advanced manufacturing with a focus on the importance of public-private partnerships. By sharing best practices and identifying ways to work together, we have an opportunity to change the global landscape as it relates to advanced manufacturing.”
The meeting kicked-off in Chicago, where attendees participated in a roundtable discussion moderated by Bill Strauss, an economist for the Chicago Federal Reserve. Strauss laid the framework for the meeting with an overview of the advanced manufacturing sector, and the dynamics it has faced during the recent economic downtown and subsequent recovery. From there, they visited Austin Polytechnical Academy for a first-hand look at a public-private partnership between the public school system and local industry. The delegation then toured Winzeler Gear, a 71-year-old, third-generation family-owned gear manufacturing business. Owner John Winzeler provided a tour of his manufacturing facility, where attendees observed an advanced manufacturing operation leveraging novel strategic partnerships with suppliers and customers.
Participants then traveled to Arlington, Va., where they joined together in sessions designed to share best practices, develop business relationships and identify collaborative opportunities that can significantly reduce the costs of advanced manufacturing research, accelerate the transfer of laboratory innovation to the factory floor and maximize production efficiencies.
The events in Northern Virginia included a reception highlighted by remarks from U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
“The manufacturing sector is a critical part of our economy,” said Senator Warner. “Re-invigorating the industry is going to take the combined effort of government, industry and academia, and I applaud CCAM and its partners in the U.K. for proactively seeking innovative ways to improve advanced manufacturing processes and products.”
CCAM brings together best-in-class manufacturers and Virginia’s top higher education institutions – University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University – to collaborate and deliver new “production-ready” solutions to factories. The facility, which is currently under construction, is located in Prince George County, Va., and is expected to open in 2012.
About the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing
CCAM is a research-based collaboration between the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and manufacturing companies worldwide. Manufacturers join CCAM as members and guide research with university faculty in two focus areas: surface engineering and manufacturing systems. CCAM is building a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art research facility in Prince George County, Va., adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s jet engine components plant. For more information, visit www.ccam-va.com.
CRT/tanaka for CCAM