Innovation Works' robotics startup plant set to boost businesses and revitalize local production

Innovation Works’ robotics startup plant set to boost businesses and revitalize local production

When most people think of factories, places that produce physical goods likely come to mind.

but soon, Innovation Business (IW)And the An early-stage investment firm based in Northside, will instead build a “factory” for applied robotics startups. This is thanks to the injection of $12 million in funds from a Rebuilding the regional challenge better Grant Award – A federal program intended to stimulate regional economic development in the wake of pandemic hardships.

The Robot startup factoryfor which a specific location has not yet been announced, will provide Sweetened Companies with physical space and direction in fostering partnerships, Perform rapid prototyping and harness small on-site production.

“We will create companies that develop products that can be produced in western Pennsylvania — not only made in China, not just made elsewhere,” he said, Mike Formicageneral manager of hardware and Alpha Lab GearI.W’s hardware acceleration software. Formica also leads the Robotics Startup Factory project.

Normally, by the time the company makes its way to Innovation Works, it seeks funding, but Formica envisions helping build participating robotic startup companies from the first idea stage to the point where the founders are ready to send their products for manufacturing. This includes working with researchers, assisting with fundraising and doing “matchmaking” to create potential partnerships between technologists, entrepreneurs and other players in the industry that could work well together.

In his view, there is no better time for this robotics factory. Formica said one of the many weaknesses that COVID-19 has highlighted is how “fragile” the US supply chain is. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020 – due to a combination of employment issues, transportation shortages and increased demand – Companies have struggled to get their products out into the world in a cost- and time-efficient manner. Formica recalled products that the public relied on being difficult to produce, and thus difficult to obtain, which made more people realize how important it was to invest in local manufacturing. After years of declining manufacturing jobs in the states, The renewed awareness of the public about the subject, Formica said, provides the opportunity for companies to create systems in which they cannot meet consumer demands.

This is why Robotics Startup Factory wants the companies you apply to be built around a culture of self-sufficiency: for both startups and manufacturers in the region.

“I want to get them ready for that big phase of growth, which will eventually drive wealth and prosperity in the region,” Formica said.

The goal, he added, is to help the local industry evolve from one science-savvy industry to another, creating companies capable of producing products based on those scientific discoveries. Furthermore, the Robotics Startup Factory will provide participants with resources such as a production-grade prototyping shop that a budding company might not normally have access to.

“The most important thing is that we try to create a culture of innovation that is not just about creating science but also about creating science that transfers to the real world — and that those products that we create from that science are going to be manufactured right here in Pittsburgh,” Formica said.


Atiya Ervin-Mitchell is a member of the 2022-2023 team for Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project that brings together young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz Endowments. -30-


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