One Year In and There Is Much More To Do…. From the Desk of LIFT CEO and Executive Director Nigel Francis

Nigel Francis

One year ago, this month I was privileged to take the reins of this institute. After years of watching the institute from the outside, I now had the chance to make a personal contribution a day-to-day basis from within the organization.

One of the first things I learned on this journey was that this institute had a tremendous network of experts and a hardworking and dedicated staff. I also recognized the great partnerships we have with the Department of Defense, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of Naval Research, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in particular. Right then, with those things in place, I knew I was in the right place and that we would succeed.

We have together achieved a lot in the last 12 months, including strengthening our team by bringing more technical and government program management experts in-house. We have hosted nearly 2,500 visitors to our Detroit facility. We have connected with our members, including personally visiting all our silver and gold-level members and many of our academic and government partners. We have enhanced the engagement of our small and medium-sized manufacturer members, including re-launching our Fast Forge program to bring them into more technology programs. We have built and expanded relationships with other stakeholders, including industry associations, and our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. Finally, we have taken a lot of time to talk with our members, our Department of Defense partners, and amongst ourselves internally to discuss what the future holds for LIFT.

So, what does the future hold? That answer is evolving as we mature as an institute. We know that the work done so far at LIFT has generated a projected return on investment (ROI) of nearly $14 billion for the federal government and the nation, measured over the next 10 years. We know that the future of manufacturing is in mixed-materials, particularly in the transportation sector, so we will likely expand our scope beyond metals. We know that it is a combination of materials, process and digital which enable advanced manufacturing innovation and drives future product, including additive manufacturing, automation and robotics, so, along with exploring varying materials, we will likely expand our scope into those different processes.

That sounds like a lot, and it is, but this institute was not created to take on small challenges. It was created to take on the biggest challenges facing our industry. So, to achieve them, we must move at the speed of the global manufacturing industry.

As we expand our scope to grow and pivot in one or all those directions, you will begin to see us in different places and different conferences. You also will begin to see our members and partners diversify into a wider array of technologies and industries.

With all that in mind, our goal of advancing manufacturing to support our economy and national security remains the same, and it will take all of us to take the U.S. manufacturing base into the future. I invite you to join us as we move forward towards the next phase of LIFT. Thank you for helping myself and the LIFT team achieve so much over the past year!