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Startup Project to Create a More Prominent Robotics Ecosystem in Pittsburgh

Jan. 20, 2023
By starting and growing companies that build their products locally, we provide opportunities for broader regional job growth,” said Managing Director of Hardware for Innovation Works Mike Formica.

Hoping to build on the city’s reputation as an automation technology hub, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plans to invest $63 million to launch the Robotics Factory, a series of related initiatives that will create, accelerate and scale robotics startups.

“Pittsburgh is a world leader in robotics and automation, and the Robotics Factory helps take this to the next level by providing the mentorship, resources and connections needed to take new innovative concepts from the idea stage to a commercial solution that can be deployed at scale,” said President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network Joel Reed.

The $63 millions comes from a Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, Innovation Works (IW), Pittsburgh Robotics Network and other regional partners.

IW, a seed stage investor in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region, will lead the development and match a portion of the $12 million provided by the EDA.

The project is made up of three programs:

  • Create: Technology experts, entrepreneurs and researchers will meet with industry experts and leaders to develop solutions to industry pain points. Each workshop, facilitated by IW and the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, will focus on one specific segment.
  • Accelerate: With applications opening on Feb. 1, up to six pre-seed robotics startups could receive up to $100,000 in funding from IW. The Robotics Factory accelerator is a seven-month program where companies will move into the co-working space; have access to a production-grade prototype shop, robot lab and other resources; and receive specialized coaching. The Pittsburgh Robotics Network will also open up access to mentorship opportunities.
  • Scale: Providing in-house design for manufacturing, supply chain management and prototyping assistance, this program supports product development. The production-grade prototype shop with in-house staff will help with low-rate production and complex physical products.

“Not only will the Robotics Factory programs address existing problems experienced by industries that can be solved using robotics and automation solutions, we plan to also provide the resources and funding that are so critical to emerging companies. Together, the Robotics Factory Create, Accelerate and Scale programs will be dynamic additions to one of the region’s most important economic engines,” said Ven Raju, president & CEO of Innovation Works.

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