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  • Writer's pictureInnovation Works

Robotics Factory to Fuel Robotics Startups & Catalyze Regional Economic Growth

Pittsburgh, PA – July 17, 2023 – The Robotics Factory will locate in the Tech Forge building in Lawrenceville, part of the long “Robotics Row” that runs from the Strip District. The Robotics Factory, a set of inter-related programs designed to create, accelerate, and scale robotics startups in the Pittsburgh region, 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. Anchored at the nexus of robotics innovation in Pittsburgh, the new location in Lawrenceville at Tech Forge will provide a collaborative physical space for emerging companies and provide some critical manufacturing capabilities which will enable these companies to effectively scale. The official address of the Robotics Factory is 113 47th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 and will take effect on Aug. 1, 2023.

Establishment of the site is a major step forward in the project, which is part of the $63 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative.

The Robotics Factory is comprised of three programs and is the only facility to house all three under one roof. The Create program brings together entrepreneurs, technology experts, researchers, and industry professionals to address industry challenges through workshops. The Accelerate program supports up to six pre-seed robotics startups with funding, mentorship and resources in a seven-month intensive program. The Scale program provides expertise in product prototypes and services to help startups develop production-ready products, utilizing the Robotics Factory's manufacturing resources.

The first cohort of six companies chosen to participate in the Accelerate program will re-locate to the Lawrenceville location as soon as feasible. Also, the factory’s new space will serve as a designated home for the Scale program. The Scale program offers unmatched expertise in product prototyping and services, facilitating the creation of production-ready products. Providing in-house design for manufacturing, supply chain management, prototyping support, and access to the region's comprehensive manufacturing resources, this new hub signifies a critical milestone in the program. By integrating manufacturing considerations at the initial design stages, companies can accelerate growth, deploy technologies, and achieve scalability more swiftly.

“We conducted a thorough site identification and selection process, evaluating sites on the basis of a range of parameters,” said Ven Raju, President & CEO of Innovation Works. “The Lawrenceville site best aligns with the overarching strategic goals of the Build Back Better regional challenge grant while meeting functional, operational and budgetary requirements.”

Jenn Apicella, Interim Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, expanded upon these sentiments, stating, "The Robotics Factory's arrival at Tech Forge is a pivotal development in our region's ability to support, accelerate, and scale robotics companies in Pittsburgh. Situated near the heart of “Robotics Row,” with its high density of robotics businesses working across multiple industries, the Robotics Factory will serve as the epicenter for innovation and commercial business growth for companies and startups developing autonomous and robotic solutions. Its strategic location will foster unparalleled collaboration opportunities, leading to new and impactful commercialized industry use and adoption. This move further solidifies our robotics ecosystem's impact on a global scale, while driving economic growth and job creation right here, anchored in the Pittsburgh region."

The regional EDA grant through Build Back Better positions southwestern Pennsylvania to seize a golden opportunity to advance the regional robotics and autonomy cluster, a sector where Pittsburgh's leadership and expertise command global recognition. This grant funds five regional projects, including the Robotics Factory. These initiatives aim to transform individuals, businesses, and communities across southwestern Pennsylvania by offering sustained opportunities in this booming sector.

“Pittsburgh’s transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a 21st century technology hub is a testament to the region’s incredible talent, world renowned research institutions, and a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Ven Raju said. “Over the course of the last four decades, the region’s robotics cluster has been at the forefront of this transformation. The Robotics Factory in its new home will serve as a centrally located community resource to support robotics companies from inception to scale, catalyzing job growth and energizing the regional economy."

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. “Pittsburgh has one of the most dynamic and regarded robotics clusters in the world. Through deliberate and strategic investments – like the Robotics Factory, the region’s first robotics accelerator made possible by our Build Back Better regional challenge grant, we are further bolstering this ecosystem – ensuring that the opportunity it presents can be accessed by people, places and companies of all stages and sizes across our region, said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and co-chair of the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative. “In less than a year since receiving this historic funding award, we’re making an impact. With its first cohort recently launched, the Robotics Factory has come to life. If you want to shape the future with robotics and autonomy, you need to be in Pittsburgh.”

For more information about the Robotics Factory, visit:


Terri Glueck, Innovation Works



About Innovation Works

Innovation Works (IW) is the Pittsburgh region’s most active investor in and supporter of early-stage companies developing hardware, software and life sciences technologies. Though focused exclusively on helping startups in the southwest PA region, IW’s level of investment activity makes it one of the most active investors in the U.S. Innovation Works is part of the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a network of four centers developed to help diversify PA’s economy and retain the state’s high caliber innovations that are invented and incubated here. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners are partially funded by the Commonwealth of PA and overseen by the Department of Community and Economic Development. To date, IW has invested $117 million in over 700 companies that have brought in an additional $3.3 billion in outside funding, making it one of the most productive uses of state dollars.

About the Pittsburgh Robotics Network

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN) represents the companies and leaders who make up the Pittsburgh robotics ecosystem, which is anchored by Carnegie Mellon University, and driven by 130+ robotics organizations. It is the PRN’s mission to accelerate the adoption of robotic solutions by bridging this large and dynamic community, to the world. The PRN executes this by making connections, expanding collective knowledge and positively influencing the advancement of robotic and artificial intelligence technologies.

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN) is dedicated to empowering and strengthening robotics organizations in the Pittsburgh region and positioning the ecosystem as an internationally recognized powerhouse.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative

The Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative was formed to apply for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the marquee initiative of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan programs which aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities. The Collaborative is an 11-county coalition, which includes dozens of organizations: community-based organizations, labor unions, educational and research institutions, economic development partners and leaders from the private, public and philanthropic sectors across all of southwestern PA. It focuses on communities that need support, adopting a hub and spoke approach designed to benefit not only the urban core but surrounding communities as well. The Collaborative is led by a board of directors co-chaired by Stefani Pashman, CEO, Allegheny Conference, and Farnam Jahanian, president, Carnegie Mellon University. On September 2, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the Collaborative as one of 21 winners of the challenge. The Collaborative will receive $62.7 million to build the region’s robotics and autonomy cluster. The award will fund five regional projects, which together are designed to provide long-term opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities in southwestern Pennsylvania to become involved in the burgeoning robotics and autonomy industry.


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