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Pittsburgh Welcomes Robotics Factory to Foster Innovation and Growth

July 27, 2023
The central hub enables companies to expedite growth, deploy technologies and achieve scale more efficiently.

Brimming with innovators and thought leaders, Pittsburgh is set to solidify its position as a global leader in the robotics field with the establishment of the Robotics Factory. This initiative, led by Innovation Works in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Robotics Network and Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, aims to create an ecosystem for robotics startups in the region. The Robotics Factory will be in the Tech Forge building in Lawrenceville, positioned at the center of Pittsburgh’s “Robotics Row.”

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Central Hub for Robotics Innovation: Create, Accelerate, Scale

The Robotics Factory is a comprehensive initiative composed of three interrelated programs, and it is the first of its kind to house all three under one roof.

The Create program brings together a diverse range of stakeholders—including entrepreneurs, technology experts, researchers and industry professionals—to collaboratively address industry challenges through workshops and ideation sessions.

The Accelerate program aims to support up to six pre-seed robotics startups by providing funding, mentorship and resources through a seven-month intensive program.

The Scale program offers expertise in product prototyping and services, allowing startups to develop production-ready products using the factory’s manufacturing resources.

By integrating manufacturing considerations from the inception stage, the Robotics Factory enables companies to expedite growth, deploy technologies and achieve scale more efficiently. It functions as a central hub for innovation and collaboration, facilitating the development of autonomous and robotic solutions across various industries. The factory’s physical location at Tech Forge provides emerging companies with a space to collaborate as well as manufacturing capabilities for effective scaling.

Revolutionizing Robotics, Partnerships Fuel Progress

The factory has reached a milestone with the selection of its first cohort of six companies to participate in the Accelerate program, including Aquatonomy, Cell X Technologies, Grasp Robotics, Leaficent, Velo AI and Voaige. (See “A Closer Look at the Inaugural Six” below.)

“The point of the Robotics Factory is to solve real-world challenges that can be addressed by robotics solutions,” says Kevin Dowling, interim managing director of the Robotics Factory for Innovation Works. “These six companies are doing just that. There are existing issues with growing food efficiently, producing regenerative medicines, making transportation safer, exploring underwater and carefully handling various products.”

He adds that the first cohort of companies are tackling some of the most fundamental issues for multiple technology applications, noting, “We’re excited to help them identify lucrative first markets, increase their technical capacity, help design for further manufacturing needs and tackle complex distribution issues.”

These companies will soon locate to the Lawrenceville location. By offering expertise in product prototyping, supply chain management and access to comprehensive manufacturing resources, this new hub is a turning point for the region’s robotics industry.

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“Pittsburgh’s transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a 21st Century technology hub is a testament to the region’s incredible talent, world renowned research institutions and a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Ven Raju, president and CEO of Innovation Works.

“Over the course of the last four decades, the region’s robotics cluster has been at the forefront of this transformation. The Robotics Factory in its new home will serve as a centrally located community resource to support robotics companies from inception to scale, catalyzing job growth and energizing the regional economy,” Raju says.

The establishment of the Robotics Factory is made possible through the $63 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative. The Robotics Factory is one of five regional projects funded by the grant.

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