Invigorating Innovation

Where will new manufacturing technologies come from? Who will develop new processes and new materials for making tomorrow's weapons, vehicles, scientific instruments and medical devices? AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology is betting that many of these innovations will come from its members. Historically, companies that built machine tools and other manufacturing equipment were also inventors and developers of new manufacturing processes.

Columns From: 7/1/2005 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Where will new manufacturing technologies come from? Who will develop new processes and new materials for making tomorrow's weapons, vehicles, scientific instruments and medical devices?

AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology is betting that many of these innovations will come from its members. Historically, companies that built machine tools and other manufacturing equipment were also inventors and developers of new manufacturing processes.

To preserve this tradition, AMT is promoting federal R&D funding programs in which its member companies can participate. At the beginning of this year, AMT brought on board Jeff Bond as its grant and proposals director. His mission is to help manufacturing technology companies get involved in programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

These programs are designed to channel federal R&D funding to small U.S. businesses. In essence, both programs are intended to match the creativity and inventiveness of small businesses with the R&D priorities of various federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security and many others. Ideally, these agencies will benefit from the technology they need or the results of it, while small businesses get a boost from an infusion of federal funds.

About 85 percent of AMT's members qualify as small businesses. Many qualify to participate in the SBIR or STTR programs, so involvement is an important opportunity. Moreover, many of the R&D solicitations made through the government programs involve manufacturing requirements. Mr. Bond's duties include identifying the “solicitation topics” that involve manufacturing technology and matching them with the capability of AMT members. He then works with these members to develop and submit effective proposals.

End-users of manufacturing technology also benefit from this activity. One of the goals of the SBIR and STTR programs is to increase private sector commercialization of the innovations derived from federal R&D spending. This means companies who develop new technology can make it available in the open market. Such innovations not only generate revenue for the AMT member, but also create opportunities for end-users to grow new business, improve productivity and strengthen their global competitiveness.

For information about AMT and its services to members and the industry, visit www.amtonline.org.

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