U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama launches technology manufacturing initiative

President Barack Obama has launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in a bid to develop new U.S.-made hi-tech products.

Obama is due to visit Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to launch the initiative, which will see the U.S. government teaming up with companies and universities to invest more than $500 million in advanced technologies.

Major new technologies in the past have been commercialized into vast industries through these partnerships including telephones, jet engines and the internet, the White House has said.

It hopes for similar achievements by speeding development of new technologies such as next-generation robotics, advanced composite materials, small high-powered batteries and bio-manufacturing.

"I'm calling for all of us to come together - private sector industry, universities, and the government - to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world," Obama said.

"With these key investments, we can ensure that the United States remains a nation that 'invents it here and manufactures it here' and creates high-quality, good paying jobs for American workers."

The program will leverage existing federal funds and future federal departmental budgets to invest with industry some $300 million to jump-start domestic manufacturing capabilities seen as critical to U.S. national security.

Initial public-private investment areas include batteries, composites, metal fabrication, biotechnology and alternative energy.

Obama is rolling out the initiative, designed to create new manufacturing jobs, as the U.S. unemployment rate remains at a high 9.1 per cent and initial claims for state unemployment benefits are growing after months of decline.

The U.S. economy is struggling to gain traction against high energy prices, a still-depressed housing market, tight credit conditions and headwinds from Europe's debt crisis.

One of the economy's brightest spots used to be manufacturing, which had powered the recovery from its longest and deepest recession since the 1930s.

Manufacturers have added about 129,000 jobs so far this year.

However manufacturing no longer has a dominant role in the U.S. economy, accounting for about 11.7 per cent of gross domestic product and roughly nine per cent of total employment.

Both the Obama administration and business leaders would like manufacturing to become a mainstay again of the U.S. economy, and reverse the longtime trend of American companies moving production overseas.

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership also aims to invest more than $100 million to help enable U.S. companies to discover, develop, manufacture and deploy advanced materials twice as fast as they are capable of today.

A further $70 million will be made available to support research into next-generation robots - those that can work alongside human operators on the factory floor, in hospitals, on battlefields and in space.

The Department of Energy also will leverage existing funds and future budgets with an initial goal of investing $120 million to develop manufacturing and processes to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing.

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