Manex (Northern California’s MEP) SFMade (a regional public-private partnership) and BriteHub (a private technology company) are implementing a powerful new design-manufacturing collaboration and sourcing platform that will catalyze regional product design/innovation, connect new product demand to regional manufacturers, and provide a platform to facilitate the re-shoring of existing demand to California’s manufacturers. During the two year grant period, the solution will reach an estimated 1000 manufacturers responsible for potentially between one to five billion dollars in total revenue, employing an estimated 15,000 to 40,000 employees. Once at scale, the collaboration platform will catalyze long-term process innovation across Northern California’s regional manufacturing base – as domestic manufacturers gain new skills, partnerships, and capacities to respond to short, flexible production runs – and will both sustain and create new manufacturing jobs across a broad spectrum of skills and roles. Finally, the solution will also be implemented with an eye towards national replication right from the beginning, offering the potential to create a new, integrated, national design-manufacturing sourcing platform.

Northern California provides an ideal location – a region rich with ideas, innovation, investment capital, and a culture of entrepreneurship- for the pilot project. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many of the world’s leading technology and hardware companies – from Apple Computer to AutoDesk – as well as a global research hub, powered by such recognized institutions as the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Labs, and the University of California Berkeley. Northern California is also home to one of the most diverse manufacturing bases in the country, with more than 13,000+ companies spanning industries as diverse as robotics, digital machine tools, and medical devices to food and beverage, furniture, and garment manufacturing. All told, California represents 11.4% of the total US manufacturing gross domestic product.

A cornerstone of the platform will be the implementation of a best of class collaboration application: BriteHub. BriteHub provides a robust on-line application that promotes business-to-business collaboration specifically between product designers/brands and domestic manufacturers At the same time, the BriteHub solution embeds established regional manufacturing support organizations (Manex and SFMade) as a core part of the process. Together, the design-manufacturing collaboration platform will 1) educate product designers and product companies about the scope and breadth of manufacturing capabilities that exist in the region, 2) enable existing/established brands a more efficient tool to re-shore their manufacturing processes, 3) provide tools and knowledge to enable existing manufacturers to capture more business by helping them re-tune their processes and capabilities to serve shorter-run and customized domestic demand, and 4) collect valuable data in relationship to what the market is demanding versus what the regional manufacturing footprint can support – further helping shape the future manufacturing needs in the region and throughout the country.

The project team and lead partner organizations – Manex, SFMade, and BriteHub – have a proven track record of working together. In addition to these organizations, the project will engage two additional MEP centers and regions: IMEC (Illinois) will share their recent experience and best practices from implementing a Chicago-based version of BriteHub, and CMTC (Southern California MEP Center) will be integrated to help plan for scaling the platform to the entire state of California. Finally, the national Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA), a non-profit organization with a network of more than 50 US cities, will partner with the project and the NIST/MEP network as a whole to look to scaling the solution nationally. The UMA provided the seed funding for the BriteHub implementation in Chicago.