Ford, TechShop Partner on Detroit Location to Help Everyday Inventors Create, Build—and Commercialize—New Technologies

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auto industry with metro Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“I like to think of [the AutoHarvest Foundation] as the Noah’s Ark of thought leaders in the innovation marketplace,” Jayson D. Pankin, AutoHarvest’s president, said in an interview. “We have links to the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the manufacturing economy, entrepreneurial talent at all stages, venture capitalists, and intellectual property experts.”

AutoHarvest’s goal, Pankin said, is to become the engine that drives the new economy by accelerating product development, growing companies, and creating new jobs. It hopes to go global in 2012, with its alpha stage already underway in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Allen Park is TechShop’s fifth location, joining outposts in Menlo Park, San Francisco, San Jose, and Raleigh, NC. TechShop officials call metro Detroit a natural fit for the workshop because of the abundance of hobbyists, backyard mechanics, and even seasoned engineering professionals concentrated here. The Detroit outpost started as a simple conversation between officials from Ford and TechShop at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA, in spring 2010. Things moved quickly from there, and, appropriately, the official announcement of the opening of TechShop Detroit will be made at this weekend’s Maker Faire at the Henry Ford in Dearborn.

“We want this space to inspire all inventive individuals and communities in and around Detroit to innovate and create,” Coughlin said.

Newton has big plans for the future of TechShop, as well. To build interest in the brand, he’s launching a reality television series next year that will follow a select group of TechShop members and will be produced and hosted by Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame. Also next year, TechShop is planning to open a location in a 26,000-square-foot former hardware store on Jay Street in Brooklyn. His goal is to open another eight locations across the country in 2012. Eventually, Newton said he’d like to see a TechShop in every community.

Seeing some raised eyebrows among the assembled guests, Newton clarified: “If they have a Home Depot, or a Lowe’s, or a Whole Foods, that’s the size of community we’re aiming for.”

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