Manufacturing plays a central role in balanced, high-income economies. A particular area of competitive advantage for these economies is advanced manufacturing, in which engineering knowledge and specialized workforce skills are integrated in order to make novel products and to accelerate productivity growth. Manufacturing firms play key roles in national innovation systems by supporting R&D, fostering invention, installing new equipment, creating new processes, and building new facilities, among other things.
Innovation in advanced manufacturing increasingly involves coordinated investment by both public and private actors. It is being pursued by an increasing number of regions and countries around the world. Social scientists have an important role to play in understanding these innovation processes and supporting smart policy-making that fosters economic growth while advancing the public interest. I was involved in the formation of advanced manufacturing policy while serving at the White House in 2011-2012. I laid out some of my views on the subject in a article in Innovations and a paper released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. My work with the advanced industries project at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program carries forward this line of research.