How Funding Robotics Startups Will Help the Region’s Economy Grow

The Robotics Factory and AlphaLab will be located in the Tech Forge building in Lawrenceville, part of ‘Robotics Row’ that starts in the Strip.
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An initiative headed to Lawrenceville will fuel robotics startups and drive regional economic growth.

The Robotics Factory and AlphaLab accelerators will be located in Lawrenceville’s Tech Forge Building, 113 47th St., a part of “Robotics Row” that begins in the Strip District.

Pittsburgh is considered one of the three top robotics regions across the globe and has attracted $3.4 billion in venture capital and private equity. The industry employs nearly 15,000 people here.

The Robotics Factory is a set of interrelated programs designed to create, accelerate and scale robotics startups in the Pittsburgh region and is led by Innovation Works, with support from the Pittsburgh Robotics Network and Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, a coalition of the region’s leading university, philanthropic and private sector partners.

According to a Robotics Factory blog post, the new location, to open Aug. 1, will “provide a collaborative physical space for emerging companies and provide some critical manufacturing capabilities, which will enable these companies to effectively scale.” 

The endeavor is part of a $63 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative. 

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, the release reads.

“Pittsburgh has one of the most dynamic and regarded robotics clusters in the world. Through deliberate and strategic investments ensuring that the opportunity it presents can be accessed by people, places and companies of all stages and sizes across our region,” Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference and co-chair of the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, said in a statement.

The Robotics Factory is the only facility in the region to house three programs — Create, Accelerate and Scale — under one roof.

Entrepreneurs, technology experts, researchers and industry professionals are brought together in the Create program to address industry challenges through workshops.

In the intensive seven-month Accelerate program, up to six pre-seed robotics startups are supported with funding, mentorship and resources.

The first cohort of six companies that are developing technologies that help with submerged, underwater structures, developing and manufacturing regenerative medicine, robotic hands and other humanoid robots, adaptive light technology to extend crop growing seasons, autonomous vehicle technology and artificial intelligence in the retail and food industries, will move to the site in the near future.

The six companies include: Aquatonomy Inc., Cell X Technologies, Grasp Robotics, Leaficient Inc., Velo AI and Voaige.

The Scale program provides expertise in product prototypes and services to help startups develop production-ready products, utilizing the Robotics Factory’s manufacturing resources.

“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 largest seed stage investor in the southwestern Pennsylvania region, in the release. 

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