EWI Logo on Product Example

Could Germany’s manufacturing innovation model work in the US?

May 9, 2012

EWI President & CEO, Dr. Henry Cialone, sat today with German Ambassador to the US, the Honorable Peter Ammon, on a panel discussion about manufacturing and innovation hosted by The Brookings Institution.  The German perspective is important and relevant, given that Germany’s manufacturing industry has continued to grow and prosper while U.S. manufacturing has stagnated in comparison.  The German ability to innovate new manufacturing technologies and get them to market quickly has much to do with their business model, which includes government-funded applications centers.

The largest of the German applications centers is Fraunhofer, and Dr. Cialone joked with Mr. Ammon about having “Fraunhofer envy.” EWI, in fact, has many similaries to Fraunhofer. Folks at Brookings are even calling it “the American Fraunhofer.”  Both EWI and Fraunhofer are manufacturing applications centers that innovate and mature technologies to the point that they are ready for industry.  The primary difference is that Fraunhofer is subsidized by the German government, which allows them to mature more technologies more quickly, and continually expand their capabilities — providing German manufacturers with quicker access to the latest manufacturing technologies available.

Dr. Cialone and Chris Conrardy, VP of Technology & Innovation at EWI, have talked a great deal recently with representatives from U.S. industry and state and federal government about how this “innovation model” proven in Germany could be the key to getting U.S. manufacturing back on track.  If the country embraces public/private partnering, this model could provide the innovation infrastructure that the U.S. is currently missing…

What do you think?  Might this innovation model work in the U.S.?  Add your comment below, or email me at Mary Wilmoth.

Dr. Cialone and Mr. Ammon during panel discussion
German Ambassador Peter Ammon (middle) and Dr. Henry Cialone (right) with moderator.
Peter Ammon and Dr. Henry Cialone
German Ambassador Ammon (left) and Dr. Henry Cialone (right)
Dr. Henry Cialone, EWI President and CEO
Dr. Henry Cialone, EWI President and CEO, speaking on U.S. Manufacturing