Robotics Factory Accelerate Program Opens Application Process for Next Cohort

Jan 17, 2024 | Announcement, News, Press Releases, Robotics Factory

PITTSBURGH — Jan. 17, 2024 — Automation and robotics are on the rise for key sectors like logistics, healthcare, and agriculture. The global robotics market is projected to skyrocket to more than $230 billion by 2030. Pittsburgh is recognized as a leading global hub for robotics innovation, with more than 140 robotics organizations across 18 verticals. 

The Robotics Factory, an initiative dedicated to creating, accelerating, and scaling robotics companies in the Pittsburgh region, has opened applications for its Accelerate Program’s second cohort. Selected companies receive funding of up to $100,000 and participate in a six-month program that is geared to help them with key aspects of starting and scaling a robotics startup. 

“The inaugural cohort of the Robotics Factory included a diverse set of companies tackling a wide array of problems including underwater surveillance, computer vision, cell processing, bicycle safety, and more. The companies benefited from value-added programming and hands-on support within key areas such as product development, customer discovery, defining and effectuating go-to-market strategy, and fundraising. Further, the companies gained access to key networks such as mentor, customer, and investor networks which are critical in helping to launch and scale a business. ” said Ven Raju, President and CEO of Innovation Works. 

Aquatonomy, a member of the inaugural Accelerate cohort, specializes in underwater intelligence through the use of autonomous robots.  During the program, the team validated their target market through extensive customer interviews, site visits, and market research, all leading to a pilot scheduled in 2024. The team also made incredible progress in product development, successfully building and testing the entire hardware and software systems for their underwater robot. This progress led to a successful product demonstration, highlighting its use in collecting data from the depths of an underwater lake floor.

“The Robotics Factory is an ideal accelerator that propels Aquatonomy on our journey. We have learned so much not only through workshops on diverse topics thoughtfully curated and offered by experts, but also through event opportunities made available to us, where we met mentors, investors, customers, media, government officials, and more,” said  Dr. Xiaoyu Kaess Co-Founder of Aquatonomy. “The mentors and program staff support us in every way we need without reservation. We wouldn’t have made so much progress and built so many meaningful connections in the past six months without the Robotics Factory.”

Managed by Innovation Works (IW) and supported by the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, the Robotics Factory Accelerate Program is funded through a $63 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant to the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative.

Similar to Innovation Works’ nationally ranked accelerator programs in Software and Life Sciences, the Robotics Factory Accelerate Program is an intensive, six-month engagement during which companies will move into the Robotics Factory’s co-working space, access manufacturing and robotics resources, including a production-grade prototype scale shop, and receive coaching and support tailored to their specific business needs. The participants will also have access to mentorship opportunities with successful robotics executives via the Pittsburgh Robotics Network.  

“Our team provided the inaugural cohort over 500 hours of 1 on 1 coaching, 18 skill development workshops, and 250 additional hours of coaching from our experienced mentors,” said Kevin Dowling, Managing Director of the Robotics Factory and Hardware for Innovation Works. “If you are a founder looking for business support to build your robotics startup, we are here for you.”

Applications to the Accelerate Program are open through Feb. 29, 2024.

About Innovation Works

Innovation Works (IW) is one of the most active early-stage investors in the country and the most active early-stage investor in the State of Pennsylvania. To date, IW has invested in over 700 companies that have gone on to raise $3.3 billion in follow-on funding. IW portfolio companies have generated and retained over 20,000 jobs in the State of Pennsylvania. IW is part of the Ben Franklin Technology Partner Network (BFTP). Over the last 30 years, the BFTP has catalyzed economic growth by providing access to capital and networks that help to foster innovation and technology-based economic development in Pennsylvania.


Jane Joseph 
Innovation Works
[email protected]