|Advanced Manufacturing: Commerce Could Strengthen Collaboration with Other Agencies on Innovation Institutes
As of December 2016, the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), and Commerce (Commerce) collectively had signed agreements to establish 11 manufacturing innovation institutes. Four of these institutes were established prior to enactment of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 (RAMI Act), which requires Commerce to establish a network of institutes for manufacturing innovation. Since 2014, the network—called the Manufacturing USA network—has grown as DOD, DOE, and Commerce have established seven more institutes, and Commerce, DOD, and DOE plan to sponsor up to four more institutes. Each institute is a public-private partnership between the sponsoring federal agency and a nonfederal entity in charge of operations, with the nonfederal entity matching or exceeding the federal financial assistance. GAO's analysis of institute membership from May through September 2016 shows that about 780 members had joined the seven institutes that were operating during GAO's review (i.e., supporting research projects in their technology focus areas). Members receive a variety of benefits, such as access to intellectual property and networking opportunities.