Big industries look to startups for innovation | Robotics Factory welcomes first Accelerate program

Big industries look to startups for innovation

KANSAS CITY, MO—Good news for startups! At an Iron Prairie Ventures panel conversation last month in Kansas City, industrial tech leaders talked about how they nurture innovation in industries like construction, manufacturing, and energy—ones not known for a great deal of innovation. Clients are excited by new tech but then their change management budgets are the first to be cut. The answer, according to Dustin Burns (McCownGordon), Michael Schlotterbeck (Deloitte), and Drew Robinson (Energy Ventures), is to create partnerships with innovative startups and help shape and drive the platforms, narratives, and the functionality that they have.

Robotics Factory welcomes first Accelerate program

PITTSBURGH, PA—September 28 marked the official launch of Pittsburgh’s Robotics Factory, a hub for mentoring young robotics companies in their respective industries. Robotics Factory is funded by the federal  Build Back Better Regional Challenge program, which in September 2022 dedicated nearly $63 million to Pittsburgh tech organizations focused on startup support and workforce development. The six startups in the first Accelerate program are Aquatonomy (which provides underwater robot autonomy software); Cell X Technologies (which focuses on regenerative medicine); Grasp Robotics (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory); Leaficient (which concentrates on agricultural tech); Velo AI (which makes an AI-powered bike); and Voaige (which makes AI-powered robotic arms designed to supplement any staffing shortages.

University startup spotlight

IOWA CITY, IA—In 2021, neurosurgery resident David Christianson and medical student Anthony Piscopo at the University of Iowa launched the first voice- and motion-controlled surgical headlight that works with an iOS through Bluetooth. When a surgeon shines a light toward a patient’s brain or spine, the tumor lights up in a bright red color, allowing the surgeon to carefully remove the entire tumor. The startup, Hawkeye Surgical Lighting, won $100,000 at the first InnoVenture Challenge last year in Des Moines