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Emerging markets expert keynotes manufacturing conference

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Keynote speaker Antoine van Agtmael delivered an optimistic forecast for advanced manufacturing at the fall conference of the Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises (DCMME).

The speaker, who coined the term “emerging markets,” is founder and CEO of Emerging Markets Management and coauthor of The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation. The book focuses on how previously downtrodden communities can create “brainbelts” using universities, government agencies, entrepreneurs and large corporations to develop an ecosystem that will produce smart new products.

“How do you make a brainbelt out of a rustbelt?” van Agtmael asked. “You first need a life-threatening situation. People don't work together unless they have to, until an industry almost completely disappears.”

While acknowledging the loss of more than 7 million manufacturing jobs over the last 25 years, van Agtmael is fervent in his belief that competitiveness is coming back to many of the world’s “old” economies.

“The key competitive advantage for the next 25 years is brain power and innovation,” he said. “The era of smart manufacturing has begun and we are totally reinventing industries that once seemed lifeless.”

A key pillar of building a brainbelt is sharing brain power and research among universities, startups and legacy companies. “You need a recognition that today’s problems cannot be solved by a single discipline or person, but by multiple disciplines and people working together,” van Agtmael said. “You also need an infrastructure, a critical mass of talent, supportive local officials and access to venture capital.”

Policy changes are another critical component. “We need to stop measuring productivity as a simple economic derivative,” he said. “The advent of big data has made business analytics a vital tool for a future that I actually think looks very bright.”

Other speakers at the conference included: Brett Brune, editor-in-chief of Smart Manufacturing Magazine; Mats Johansson, chief executive officer of EON Reality; Charlie Chung, senior marketing manager at UPS Supply Chain Solutions; Rho Cauley Bruner, integrated product team lead at Northrup Grumman; Bob Nida, vice president of organizational development at Wabash National; and Karthik Ramani, Purdue’s Donald W. Fedderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

The September conference, titled “Building Smart, Lean Ecosystems,” was moderated by Ananth Iyer, Purdue’s Susan Bulkeley Butler Chair in Operations Management and director of DCMME. The center – which promotes education, research and industrial engagement among those interested in operations, manufacturing and supply chain management – celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017.

More information:

Contact: Steve Dunlop, DCMME managing director, 765-494-7800,