Tighter linkages among product designers, manufacturers and their
associated supply chains are also seen as innovative ways to add value
to the manufacturing process. Zysman and other experts who study the
decline of U.S. manufacturing stress that it is the ability to generate
new intellectual property and add value to products during the
manufacturing process are among the key innovations needed to revive
John Zysman on preserving U.S. manufacturing:
Dave Lentz, supply chain solutions program
manager with Phoenix-based Avnet Inc., noted that the electronic
components distributor is working to deliver supply innovations that
will help manufacturers cope with shrinking product cycles and the
resulting need to get products to market sooner.
The role of
government in fostering innovation remains a subject of sharp debate. A
hearing Tuesday before the House Science Committee panel on technology
and innovation underscored the partisan divisions over the government’s
role in promoting innovations. “We should enact policies that ensure
this country remains the best place to launch or expand a business,”
Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., the subcommittee’s chairman, said during the
hearing on innovation. “Excessive regulations and red tape increase the
cost of doing business and create uncertainty for private sector
Several members of the Design West panel agreed with
that view, arguing that the government’s role is to get out of their
way. Others said the best way for Washington to foster innovation was to
create a level playing field in global markets. “What I want from my
government is to break down market barriers” that make it harder to
compete in the global electronics industry, said Jeff Lawson, an
embedded design engineer with Shockwave Impact.
National Instruments stressed that despite heavy private investment in
areas like cleantech, there is a continuing government role in
supporting “precompetitive research” needed to generate the next round
of U.S. innovation.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.