Cross-Border Innovation Groups Establish Manufacturing Accelerator

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streamline their design and prototyping, enabling them to work through many prototype versions, Wang said.

“The idea is that this [Ansir] would be the initial garage, as it were,” he explained. FabLab, which put on San Diego’s first Mini Maker Faire last year, is housed in the Ansir Innovation Center, so “We have a laser cutter, 3-D printers, and electronics lab benches,” Wang added. Co-Merge offers more of a front-office workspace. And after a startup has completed its final product design, Wang said the HardTech Labs program would help connect the company with a manufacturer in Tijuana or Otay Mesa, the industrial park along the San Diego side of the border.

Derek Footer, a HardTech Labs co-founder who is managing partner of Origo Ventures, said he’s been working to get local manufacturers to discount their manufacturing costs in exchange for an ownership stake in HardTech’s startups. Origo would provide equity funding to startups admitted into the HardTech Labs accelerator. Manufacturers, which contend with short production runs for regular customers, see the program as a way to fill some of their unused capacity and gain new customers.

Co-Merge San Diego

Co-Merge San Diego

Manufacturers in Tijuana have established their expertise in such industries as medical devices, aerospace, electronics, and HardTech Labs’ co-founders said they plan to focus primarily on consumer products, medical devices, and robotics.

“We’re starting with a bi-national startup community in Tijuana and San Diego, but we can interface with Asia, Taiwan, and more,” says Wang. He tells me he visited and studied San Francisco’s Lemnos Labs, Haxlr8r, and Highway 1—and says all have focused on manufacturing products in China.

Wang sees advantages in working with manufacturers in Mexico, because they are closer and that makes it easier to get feedback about design and engineering changes that would make products easier to produce.

Wang earned a doctorate in neuroscience at UC San Diego, and was doing research in neural networks and brain computation at the Salk Institute before starting the … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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3 responses to “Cross-Border Innovation Groups Establish Manufacturing Accelerator”

  1. pingthink says:

    Thanks, Bruce, for the article shedding light on the program. To just add a few remarks, there have been a *lot* of community members who have been not just propounding this but building it from the ground up, including Katie Rast and the Fab team (Allen, Lucy, Nigel) who have been building a prototyping incubator from the ground up within FablabSD, and to which I am proud to support.

  2. Sean OSullivan says:

    Good luck in getting the program off the ground, HardTech! Sounds like you guys have a chance…

    At Haxlr8r, we *do* encourage our startups to make the most of the assembly and low-cost supply of goods in China. A bigger part of it, though, are all the supply chain issues, and the rapid turnaround and prototyping facilities which startups benefit from by being in “hardware central”, the manufacturing center of the world for electronics — Shenzhen, China.

    In ten or twenty years, we hope to see more of this available in other places… not just Mexico, but also in the mainland United States itself. It can happen.

    Good luck.

    • pingthink says:

      Hi Sean, although the focus of this article was primarily on the possibilities that our close connections in Mexico can add:

      1) We also have connections and capabilities in Greater China / Taiwan,etc, so Mexico is additive, and not necessarily “in place of” those capabilities, depending on the project needs.

      2) Our basic thesis is that there are advantages to the binational border such as time to market, R&D flow, IP protection, assembly efficiencies, tax advantages, market co-location, cultural synergies, and much much more that have not been fully explored or appreciated before in the entrepreneurial hardware innovation world. (although there is a buzz about it, such as via Chris Anderson’s 3D Robotics, etc..)

      BTW – Haxl8r is great, I really enjoyed demo day in SF and I hope that we serve as able compliments to each other and perhaps find synergies. It is an inspirational model. Keep up the good work!