Time is money, and when research and development dollars are increasingly harder to come by, it is extremely important to ensure the research is conducted in the shortest possible time, and also that work conducted doesn't "reinvent the wheel."

A major effort on the national level, known as Government Agencies Technology Exchange in Manufacturing (GATE-M), is attempting to get the most bang for the buck by facilitating information exchange and coordinating leveraging opportunities relating to manufacturing R&D programs of various federal agencies that include manufacturing as a major component of their mission.

Agencies involved in GATE-M include National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Department of Defense, the Department of Energy (represented by two separate entities: the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Each of the agencies has a distinct and different mission, and each includes manufacturing as a major element associated with the conduct of its mission.

GATE-M is the only current national-level effort attempting to specifically and comprehensively focus on manufacturing research and development activities conducted at, or funded through, federal agencies across the government.

GATE-M will create mechanisms to:

  • Allow federal agencies that have a manufacturing component in their mission to exchange and leverage information about their technical programs
  • Coordinate manufacturing R&D programs among federal agencies to facilitate collaboration when it makes sense to leverage resources in address particular issues
  • Provide a forum for the agencies to promote issues on an interagency, national level

The Government Agencies Technology Exchange in Manufacturing effort is intended to comprehensively address manufacturing R&D across the federal government to benefit the agencies, U.S. manufacturers and the economy as a whole. Strategies will include detailed interagency reviews of programs in specific areas and issuance of joint white papers or position papers. Agencies also may jointly sponsor workshops, promote and sponsor the development of "roadmaps" in specific technical areas, and jointly encourage or support industrial research. The intent is to involve the manufacturing community of industry, government and trade associations in an integrated effort. Representatives from organizations including key industry consortia, trade associations and professional societies may be invited to provide presentations and information about specific topics. In addition, technical experts from industry, government agencies and academia may be invited to provide subpanels and working groups with presentations and information about specific topics.

Two topics identified as initial priority areas are intelligence in manufacturing, a cross-cutting technology area that could transform how manufacturing is carried out in the future; and nano and microscale systems and technologies, an emerging area of science and technology that promises to have a significant and broad impact on U.S. manufacturing as well as the nation's economy.