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Virginia Tech Spearheads US-UK Advanced Manufacturing Collaboration

Public-private partnership looks at ways to work with counterparts across the pond.

Virginia Tech kicked off what officials hope is a long-term partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom this week at its new state-of-the-art research center in Ballston.

“The goal… is to begin the international discussion regarding collaboration when it comes to advanced manufacturing,” said Don Leo, the school’s associate vice president for research in the National Capital Region.

The four-day meeting began in Chicago and culminated in Arlington between the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or CCAM, and similar research efforts in the United Kingdom.

CCAM joins Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and Virginia State University with seven private companies – including Rolls-Royce North America and Canon Virginia – in a public-private partnership.

This week’s meeting was designed to discuss best practices, develop business relationships and identify collaborative opportunities that can cut costs of advanced manufacturing research and accelerate the transfer of laboratory innovation to the factory floor, according to a Virginia Tech news release.

Leo said possible opportunities for future collaboration include providing new technology to students and student or faculty exchanges.

“In my view, the future of advanced manufacturing in the United States is brighter as a result of the discussions that we’re having,” said David Lohr, president and executive director of CCAM.

“I myself have really enjoyed the opportunity to hear from my partners across the pond, and learn what they’re doing, and learn lessons about how to advance relationships between universities and industry for the benefit of advanced manufacturing collaborations.”

Jim Guyette, president and chief executive officer of Reston-based Rolls-Royce North America, told a small crowd at a Wednesday afternoon reception, “We’re just getting started.”

The company has about 8,000 employees across the United States and Canada.

“One of the most important reasons that Rolls-Royce has decided to plant another rather large flag in Virginia is because of the relationship that we have with the various universities and colleges,” Guyette said. “They’re crucial to this.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called CCAM “a model for public-private partnerships.” He also touted legislation he has proposed that would allow the federal government to offer $5,000-per-job forgivable loans to companies that choose to bring their business to the United States.

Such a measure would supplement state and local economic development efforts, he said.

“It’s time for the national government, I believe, to be involved in assisting economic development,” Warner said.

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