For an emerging manufacturer on the road to commercialization, developing a product prototype can be an expensive speed bump. Now, under a new partnership, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA
(BFTP/SEP) will match up to $5,000 to provide startups access to facilities, equipment and services at NextFab Studio
NextFab, which bills itself as a "gym for innovators," offers cutting-edge hardware and software tools, technical training, consulting and, most recently, incubator services. Its 21,000-square-foot space in Philadelphia houses a wet lab, 3-D printers and scanners, laser engravers and cutters, and electronics, wood and metal shops.
Evan Malone, NextFab’s founder and president, says that while $10,000 is not usually enough to fully fund the prototyping process, it enables emerging manufacturers to refine or make incremental progress.
The first startup benefiting from the collaboration is Biomeme
, a maker of mobile systems for advanced DNA diagnostics and one of five nascent companies in residence at NextFab. The funding will enable Biomeme to use NextFab’s 3-D printers, robotic circuit board assembly technology and computer-numerical-control machine tools to refine their design and begin pilot manufacturing.
Companies don’t need to be NextFab members to apply. The focus is on medical technologies, alternative energy and new consumer products. According to Malone, this program should "help the Philadelphia region and the Commonwealth become even more attractive as a destination for the brightest young entrepreneurs."
Source: Evan Malone, NextFab Studio
Writer: Elise Vider