Obama reinforces innovation agenda in State of the Union

Feb 13, 2013

There was plenty of content for followers of the innovation economy in the President's State of the Union last night. 

The middle section of the address touched on some hot topics like 3D printing, a turnaround in off-shoring, manufacturing hubs and a big chunk on renewable energy.

Obama also drew a stark contrast between a booming domestic energy sector and a nation hampered by its aging infrastructure. Many of the infrastructure issues were outline by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009 in their infrastructure report card.

According to an update of a report on U.S. transport infrastructure originally released in 2011 by a bi-partisan coalition called Building America's Future Educational Fund, freight bottlenecks cost the country about $200 billion a year.

The President's agenda also invoked some of the vision of the two Roosevelts and Eisenhower, who all set ambitious targets for the nation's infrastructure through waterways, bridges, tunnels and highways.

I propose a "Fix-It-First" program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don't shoulder the whole burden, I'm also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children.

The emphasis on ports is due to the anticipated doubling of volumes through U.S. ports by 2020.

President Obama and Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to be singing from the same song sheet with the president announcing plans for 15 innovation hubs across the country, modeled on the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute or NAMII, recently named by the Brookings Institution as one of the top ten innovative initiatives of 2013.

Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There's no reason this can't happen in other towns. So tonight, I'm announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.

For an insight into how those hubs work, here's Ryan Delaney's backgrounder produced after Cuomo's initiatives announced in the New York state budget proposal 2013-2014.