Examining U.S. Industrial Innovation Policy with Cambridge

Attendees of the Babbage Forum held at GTMI

Attendees of the Babbage Forum held at GTMI on May 25, 2023.

The Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) recently hosted a Cambridge University Babbage Forum examining industrial innovation strategy among leading global nations. The forum gathering held on May 25 in Atlanta at Georgia Tech specifically examined the United States and southeastern regional industrial innovation policies. The Babbage Forum was founded at Cambridge University by Professor Sir Michael Gregory, former head of the Institute for Manufacturing, to develop a compendium of industrial innovation policies across 10 Innovation-leading nations.

Industrial innovation policy can be defined as involving governmental interventions at the post-research stages (including development, prototyping, testing, demonstration, pilot production, production, and market creation) to enable scale-up and implementation of new technologies.

Meetings such as this one held at Georgia Tech attempt to develop an understanding of emerging U.S. and global industrial innovation policies and identify remaining gaps. Thomas Kurfess, executive director of GTMI and the HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control, are helping to strategize future manufacturing policies in the U.S.

“The Babbage team was enthusiastic to learn about all that we have happening in the U.S., Georgia and the Metro-Atlanta area,” said Kurfess. “Over the past several decades, we have been growing our manufacturing capabilities here and creating a substantial amount of high paying and high tech manufacturing jobs for a broad spectrum of our population. This has not only been wonderful for the State of Georgia, but also our efforts and successes have helped to boost the national economy and support national security.”

Forum participants examined regional industrial capabilities with a secondary focus on national industrial capabilities addressing both the innovation and industrial scale-up issues. Processes for moving from policy objective to implementation were reviewed including opportunities for experimentation, evaluation, and policy learning. Organizational structures across academia, government and think tanks as well as ecosystems and small-to-medium-sized enterprise engagement were analyzed. The group conducted an analysis of successful (and unsuccessful) industrial innovation policy interventions to identify effective practices and mechanisms in the southeast, Georgia, and the Atlanta area that ensure opportunities for a diverse set of workers, while fully engaging local communities. Such practices result in sustainable and equitable opportunities throughout the region.

“There's some pretty dramatic changes going on, in technology, in society, and indeed geopolitically,” said Sir Michael Gregory who attended the GTMI meeting. “And whereas a few years ago, industrial innovation policy was seen by some people not to be very relevant, now almost everybody thinks it matters.”

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