What do you get when you put nine enterprising hardware tech startups into an industrial-chic space in a former bowling alley in East Liberty?
, the cool tech startup accelerator brought to us by Innovation Works and created around the idea—modeled after AlphaLab on the South Side—of entrepreneurs making great hardware together.
About 150 curious well-wishers attended the open house Monday night, which lifted the veil—or should we say garage doors—on the first class of companies.
The 10,000 square-foot space is an inspiring version of tech shop with touches like chain-link fences, barn doors, splashes of wall color, couches and a long wall of 12, 52-inch monitors that form a giant flat screen.
Gear taps the region’s prowess in robotics, software and hardware tech design, bringing entrepreneurs and artists together in a collaborative space to provide intensive business mentoring, financial assistance up to $50,000, a membership to tools and equipment in nearby TechShop and mentorship, for which IW is known.
“If Pittsburgh knows one thing, it’s how to make things,” said Rich Lunak, CEO of IW. “We are the original industrial town. We have the supply chain and talent to make this successful.”
The companies include:
FreshTemp, creating a temperature monitor and alert system for the food, medical and manufacturing industries.
IdentifiED, based on tech developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab, designing unmanned aerial systems for data gathering in remote and hazardous environments for military, oil and gas exploration.
KyteLabs, two entreprenuers from Puerto Rico who are working on 4.0 software/hardware products with low-energy Bluetooth.
LifeShel, making smarter smart phone cases that protect more than just your smartphone.
Piecemaker, offering retailers 3D technology to create their own low-cost customized products in a matter of minutes.
Rapid PTC, automated platform technology for manufacturing thermoplastic composite parts.
Romeo Delivers, a monthly subscription service for men who need a little assistance with sending romantic notions to their significant other, like “kisses in a bag.”
Saturday Garage, applying robotics to the tool industry for tool challenged do-it-yourselfers who need assistance in operating industrial-grade precision and design tools.
Two artists-in-residence are also a part of the mix: documentary filmmaker Kalpana Biswas and woodworking furniture designer Jonathan Shapiro.
“People are working in this space. Sparks are flying,” says Illana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear. “Being a maker has become cool again.”
AlphaLab Gear was created with support from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, URA, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Innovation Works