The Robotics Factory, an initiative dedicated to creating, accelerating, and scaling robotics companies in the Pittsburgh region, has announced its new location at the Tech Forge building in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Supported by Innovation Works, the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, the Robotics Factory will serve as a collaborative space, bolstering manufacturing capabilities and helping companies expedite commercialization of their products.
The new location at Tech Forge is situated in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Robotics Row,” which boasts a high density of robotics organizations in all stages of growth working across various industries.
The establishment of this site marks a significant stride in the project, a key element of the $63 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative – a coalition of the region’s leading university, philanthropic, and private sector partners.
The Robotics Factory designed to help regional tech companies expand
The Robotics Factory is composed of three distinct programs, addressing everything from ideation to commercialization. The Create program cultivates an innovative space for entrepreneurs, technology experts, researchers, and industry professionals to address industry challenges through workshops.
The Accelerate program propels up to six pre-seed robotics startups with funding, mentorship, and resources through a seven-month intensive program. The Scale program provides industry-leading expertise in product prototyping and services, supporting companies in developing production-ready products by utilizing the resources of the Robotics Factory.
The first batch of six companies chosen for the Accelerate program will relocate to the Robotics Row location as soon as feasible. This new location will provide in-house design for manufacturing, supply chain management, prototyping support, and access to the region's comprehensive manufacturing resources.
By empowering companies to incorporate manufacturing considerations in the initial design stages, the Robotics Factory will expedite the deployment of autonomous technologies and enable companies to attain scalability.
“We conducted a thorough site identification and selection process, evaluating sites on the basis of a range of parameters,” said Ven Raju, president and CEO of Innovation Works. “The Lawrenceville site best aligns with the overarching strategic goals of the Build Back Better regional challenge grant while meeting functional, operational and budgetary requirements.”
Jenn Apicella, interim executive director of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, expanded upon these sentiments, stating, “The Robotics Factory's arrival at Tech Forge is a pivotal development in our region's ability to support, accelerate, and scale robotics companies.”
“The Robotics Factory will serve as the epicenter for innovation and commercial business growth for companies and startups developing autonomous and robotic solutions,” she added. “Its strategic location will foster unparalleled collaboration opportunities, leading to new and impactful commercialized industry use and adoption.”
“This move further solidifies our robotics ecosystem's impact on a global scale, while driving economic growth and job creation right here, anchored in the Pittsburgh region,” said Apicella.
Federal funding helps elevate Pittsburgh's robotics economy
The regional EDA grant positions southwestern Pennsylvania to seize a golden opportunity to advance the regional robotics and autonomy cluster, a sector where Pittsburgh's leadership and expertise command global recognition.
This grant funds five regional projects, including the Robotics Factory. These initiatives aim to transform individuals, businesses, and communities across southwestern Pennsylvania by offering sustained opportunities in this booming sector.
“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,” Ven Raju added. “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.”
The focus is on fostering inclusivity, targeting those previously overlooked for employment, wealth creation, and innovation opportunities in robotics and autonomy.
The dedicated home for the Robotics Factory fortifies the region’s robotics cluster and reinforces Pittsburgh’s position as a global leader in robotics innovation. “Pittsburgh has one of the most dynamic and regarded robotics clusters in the world,” claimed the organization.
“Through deliberate and strategic investments—like the Robotics Factory, the region’s first robotics accelerator made possible by our Build Back Better regional challenge grant, we are further bolstering this ecosystem—ensuring that the opportunity it presents can be accessed by people, places and companies of all stages and sizes across our region,” said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and co-chair of the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative.
“In less than a year since receiving this historic funding award, we’re making an impact,” she said. “With its first cohort recently launched, the Robotics Factory has come to life. If you want to shape the future with robotics and autonomy, you need to be in Pittsburgh.”
“The Robotics Factory will be a vital and unique anchor asset – a physical hub where community is created and innovation is ignited,” said Ben Pratt, regional economic competitiveness officer at the Allegheny Conference. “It will be invaluable for the ongoing nurturing of the next generation of robotics companies.”
“The Robotics Factory is a first-of-its-kind robotics initiative in how it brings support for acceleration, creation and scaling together under one roof,” he noted. “It sends a strong signal that the Pittsburgh region is a perfect launchpad, as well as a place where companies can scale and grow.”
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