Thoughts from a Recovering Roboticist on TechShop

Long before I was President and CEO of IW, I was a roboticist and entrepreneur. Back then, I spent many late nights redesigning portions of our pharmacy robots including end-of-arm toolings, drive mechanics and other components. In order to complete a prototype of a new design, we were forced to use makeshift equipment in our lab or coax a local machine shop owner to prioritize our small orders to meet a critical timeline. It wasn’t the most efficient use of my time, but there were no other options for a cash-strapped, early-stage entrepreneur desperate to meet a deadline.


I had the opportunity to visit Techshop in San Francisco a few months ago and immediately recognized its value. The facility’s state-of-the-art prototyping tools, software, and training was exactly what I needed during the early product/growth phases of the companies I helped build. I couldn’t be happier that TechShop chose to open their 7th location right here in Pittsburgh, allowing our entrepreneurs the ability to prototype cheaper, faster and better.


Why is this an obvious fit for Pittsburgh? One only has to look at the recent IPO of 3D printing company ExOne, the $30M NAMII Federal Award, or the recent acquisition of AllPoint Systems by AutoDesk to understand that our region has strengths in hardware product development and manufacturing.


TechShop’s 16,000 sq. ft Bakery Square facility will help our region’s manufacturing sector, one of SWPA’s largest economic drivers, stay on top of innovation. It will also add to our region’s hardware community, fostered by grassroots groups like HackPittsburgh, established companies such as 4Moms, Bossa Nova, 3 Rivers 3D, Aethon, and Seegrid, and newer startups coming out of our AlphaLab accelerator program.


As this sector continues to grow, expect new initiatives from IW designed to help this cluster grow faster with increased support.


I look forward to seeing you all there.