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The Global Agenda Council on Advanced Manufacturing  was launched in 2012 following the recommendation of several Forum constituents given the importance of the manufacturing sector for global economic growth in both emerging economies and developed markets. As Arun Maira, the council chair, pointed out “we are about to dive into a long journey in which all questions might not be answered at the end of this year. However, the Forum is a unique organization with a multi-stakeholder convening power which is well suited to frame the foundations of a transformative manufacturing ecosystem concept.”

Although many countries have made manufacturing one of their key priorities, there is little awareness of the importance and opportunities linked to the manufacturing industry. As a result, the Global Agenda Council on Advanced Manufacturing chose to focus on:

  • Sharing best practices among key opinion leaders in the manufacturing sector
  • Developing a framework impacting relevant stakeholders
  • Fostering synergies with the Forum’s Initiative on the Future of Manufacturing.

As the Council was newly created, the members spent a great deal of time scoping and mapping the issues. To be able to develop concrete recommendations, the Council: defined what is meant by “advanced manufacturing”; established the key trends impacting the global manufacturing ecosystem; and outlined a framework that highlights the need to align interests for the three major stakeholders, namely, governments, businesses and society at large.

The following definition of the concept of advanced manufacturing was developed:

Advanced manufacturing is defined in this report as the technological, organizational, social and environmental strategies that improve manufacturing so that it can meet the goals of enterprises, society and governments and adapt to change. This definition reflects the growing level of embededness brought by supply chain management of the functions of production, distribution and consumption.

Having defined the concept, the Council Members mapped out several trends impacting the global manufacturing ecosystem and clearly highlighting the transformative forces that are shaping the future of global manufacturing, including but not limited to:

  • Government policies
  • Workforces and talent development
  • Wage growth
  • Energy supply
  • Infrastructure
  • Trade agreements
  • Foreign direct investments
  • Innovation ecosystem
  • Currency exchange

Having identified these transformative forces, the Council considered what new model is likely to impact the global manufacturing landscape. At the Summit on the Global Agenda in Abu Dhabi, the Council Members focused on absorbing the variety of perspectives that would validate their a new Model for an “Advanced Manufacturing” vision.

Council Focus

Advanced Manufacturing Framework

During the course of the Summit, the Council developed an advanced manufacturing framework. The fundamentals behind a successful advanced manufacturing strategy include identifying and addressing capability and innovation gaps through manufacturing, effective foreign direct investment (FDI) strategies, strong talent and infrastructure, as well as access to finance. Putting manufacturing back at the centre of country competitiveness can help address, in the longer term, both job creation and higher productivity.

The framework at right highlights the need to further align public and private sector incentives to develop an effective advanced manufacturing strategy. Institutions and public-private dialogue must play a significant role in aligning those incentives.


In order to raise awareness of the issue of manufacturing, the Council is writing a white paper on “New Models for Sustainable Manufacturing”. The paper will provide the context, drivers, new models and recommendations impacting global sustainable manufacturing. The aim of the paper is to raise public, governmental and business awareness of a “sustainable manufacturing” framework proposal across various regions of the world.

Additionally, the Council has also drafted two blogs over the course of the term, considering whether a sustainable manufacturing industry is economically viable and what the future of the manufacturing industry would look like.

The Council contributed to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2012 through the “Manufacturing for Growth” session in the official programme, which was linked to the Future of Manufacturing Initiative. Key regional policy-makers and business leaders from India, South Africa, Brazil and the US attended this event, noting the importance of the sector for economic growth and job creation. In the official programme, the session focused specifically on the following dimensions:

  • The effect of industrial policies
  • The potential of advanced manufacturing
  • Emerging manufacturing hot spots.

The private session advancing the initiative focused on the outcomes of an intensive data-driven narrative looking at the key drivers impacting the global manufacturing ecosystem. It also provided a neutral platform for a multi-stakeholder interaction on recommendations that business and governments should undertake to stimulate manufacturing for growth. Selected Members of the Council were invited during the course of the year to join workshops in India, Brazil, China and London and provided their inputs into the Forum’s task force.

Next Steps

While most of the work this year focused on the “what” and new models, the Council wishes to advance the current work more specifically on the “how” and test a concept with a pilot country. Concretely it wishes to move from writing papers to working on a real pilot case. The Council will delve more profoundly into selected issues that have been identified during this first term and that will be enriched by the contributions of current and new Members.


The opinions expressed here are those of the individual members of the Council and not of the World Economic Forum or any institutions to which they are affiliated.