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America Makes…Excuses

by • April 20, 2016 • No Comments


I didn’t plan to write a follow up article of America Makes. Their “pay to play” strategy produces a big barrier for beginups, which I feel are significant to the development of the 3D printing industry. It is complex adequate for entrepreneurs to get a fair shake in the private sector. Organizations in the public domain should assist level the playing field, not turn it into actually additional barriers.

As I stated in my previous piece, America Makes is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). Each of their nodes is supposed to provide “shared facilities to local begin-ups and tiny manufacturers to assist them scale up new technologies, accelerate technology transfer to the marketplace, and facilitate the adoption of technology workforce skills.”

I in addition described which the federal funding level for America Makes is up to $70 million. But the organization in addition obtains participantship fees and other investments of federally funded organizations like the FAA, NASA and the Department of Energy. It additional benefits of tax dollars of public universities which include North Carolina State, the University of Texas El Paso, and the University of Northern Iowa, one of many others.

My point was which a $15,000 “participantship fee” is prohibitive to all but the many well-funded beginups. I feel they should lower the bar for new companies who may quite benefit of those kinds of resources.

But, I attained a few feedback to the article suggesting which I didn’t have the whole story and which I ought to talk with representatives at America Makes. Fair adequate.3dp_marshabitat_logo_america_manufactures

Over the past month I have attempted to schedule an interview with the leadership at America Makes. On March 24, 2016 I got my initially response. I was asked if I’d like to come up to Youngstown, OH for an in-man meeting. I said perhaps, but wanted to begin with a phone call. It is a four-hour drive of my office, and again, I wasn’t actually certain it was worth another article.

Out of respect, I offered to send my inquiries in advance. In a follow up email with the inquiries I introduced which, “If any of these inquiries are off-limits I know.​ In addition, ​if any of these inquiries have been answered online or elsewhere and you’d like to point me towards a link, which’s rad too. I don’t want to take up a bunch of your time, just attempting to gather as much info as possible. My goal is to accurately and pretty tell the story.”

That request was in addition sent on March 24th. The man in question replied saying he may have answers to me by the next Monday, March 28th. I followed up on the 29th and heard back on the 30th which he was “called to DC this weekend” and was “quite sorry of the delay.” I followed up again on April 5th. No response. I followed up again on April 13th and finally attained a short response on Tuesday, April nineteenth
, thanking me for my patience and saying which I “can have a response tomorrow,” which was yesterday. But no response.

Here were my inquiries:

1) According to your website, a few project calls are open to non-participants and “can be drawn of any combination of companies, academic institutions or individuals, as long as a member of America Makes leads the proposed effort.” Does which include the current project call? If so, do you facilitate the process for beginups, or are they supposed to find a lead themselves?

2) Do you find which member companies are receptive to working with beginups to sponsor an America Makes project call? If so, do you find private (GE, etc.) or public entities (NASA, etc.) to be additional receptive?

3) It looks as yet many of the participants are universities and several of the projects have been led by them. Have any of your university participants led a project, which included a beginup which didn’t have a direct affiliation with the school (students, graduates, on campus accelerator, etc.)

4) Of the 31 project calls which are may already underway, can you cite examples of those which were initiated by beginups, yet led by a member organization? If so can you share names?

5) If a beginup were to work with a lead to submit a project, who owns the intellectual property which is derived of which project? I know which equite party owns their own background IP, but which anything made as part of the project, must be shared with other participants. How does which work? Can IP in addition be shared with non-participants? If so, does the party which turn it intod the IP have a say in where it is shared and how it is utilized?

6) How many of the 31 project calls which have been awarded thus far have been accomplished? What was the result? What’s the sizeablest good results so far?

7) Please define what is intended by “cost-share.” Can beginup founders include their time as “labor?” Are there standard rates for specific parts of cost share elements (labor, travel etc.) Is this audited a fewhow?

8) Can a cost-share estimate be submitted in lieu of the participantship fee? Is there any way for a beginup to participate without either paying the participantship fee or partnering with another organization which is may already a member (or caning to pay the fee and become a member)?

9) Can the participantship fee be refunded if the project does not obtain an award?

10) What is America Makes’ operational budget? How many individuals are directly employed by the organization?​

As I described above (and directly via email to the representative at America Makes), my goal was to accurately and pretty tell the story. Answers to these inquiries may be a big assist.

Upon bringing office, President Obama said which his administration was “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We can work together to encertain the public trust and establish a process of transparency, public participation and collaboration.”

He’s in addition been a big advocate of America Makes. Do you remember in his 2013 State of the Union address when he said, “Last year, we turn it intod our initially building technology institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing which has the future to revolutionize the way we manufacture almany equitething.”

Based on the lack of response of America Makes, I can just can expect which they don’t share his values regarding transparency, public participation and collaboration.

The Obama Administration has in addition said which it is committed to bringing “concrete action to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship across the country, in five key areas”:

Unlocking access to capital to fuel beginup growth

Connecting mentors and education to entrepreneurs

Reducing barriers and building government work for entrepreneurs

Accelerating technology of “lab to market” for breakthrough technologies

Unleashing market opportunities in industries like healthcare, clean energy, and education

I’ve in addition seen little evidence which America Makes is unlocking access to capital for beginups. As I described above, a “pay to play” strategy has the opposite effect. They in addition don’t seem quite interested in removing barriers and building government work for entrepreneurs. If there is a way around the participantship fee, it does not seem to be a straightforward path.

Maybe they’re just not getting the memos?

[Creative commons “No Excuses” is copyright (c) 2006 by Vandys]


John Hauer is the Founder and CEO of Get3DSmart, a consulting practice which assists sizeable companies know and capitalize on opportunities with 3D printing. Prior to which, John co-Founded and served as the CEO of 3DLT. The company worked with retailers and their suppliers, assisting them sell 3D printable products, online and in-store.

John’s original content has been featured on TechCrunch, QZ.com, Techfaster.com, 3DPrint.com and Inside3DP.com, one of others. Follow him on Twitter at @Get3DJohn