NJII and TechX Foundry Agree to Collaborate in Move that Should Help Tech Hardware Startups

Photo: Officials gather at NJ Makers Day at NJIT and announce NJII partnership with TechX Foundry. Photo Credit: Denise Spell
Officials gather at NJ Makers Day at NJIT and announce NJII partnership with TechX Foundry. | Denise Spell

TechX Foundry (Secaucus), the soon-to-be part makerspace and part prototyping and manufacturing facility, has entered into collaboration with the New Jersey Innovation Institute, the two entities announced at an event on NJ Makers Day, March 21.

The move is expected to help tech hardware startups, local businesses, and corporations bring tech integrated hardware to market more efficiently and less expensively.

TechX Foundry is a New Jersey membership-based, technology innovation center focused on accelerating ideas and concepts towards commercialization in a risk-mitigated, cost-reduced environment.

NJII is a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation chartered to apply the intellectual and technological resources of this science and technology university to business, innovation and technology challenges identified by industry and government partners.

According to David A. Rosen, TechX Foundry CEO, the agreement specifies the following common goals: 

  • Establish a co-branded bridge of collaboration between academia and industry that will enhance outreach capabilities, business development, innovation and R&D.
  • Promote and develop regional innovation, investment and manufacturing for economic growth, workforce development and sustainability.
  • Reduce costs via economies of scale through a collaboration between the makerspaces at  NJIT and the commercial innovation facilities at TechX.
  • Increase interaction and alignment among academic, governmental and industry players.

The TechX and NJII teams will together pursue opportunities to research and develop several disruptive technologies and their related markets.  Initially, these efforts will include: 

  • Enhancing, and partnering with, existing Fab Labs on the NJIT campus and the Fab Lab at TechX.
  • Supporting commercial businesses and startups that are pursuing opportunities in:
  • smart cities,
  • additive and advanced manufacturing, materials and technologies,
  • autonomous vehicles and robotics
  • Developing co-branded training and certification for advanced manufacturing and electronics, to contribute to workforce development by helping to fill the “skills gap.”

The TechX Foundry relationship will support NJII iLab critical industry clusters in healthcare (e.g., medical device modeling), defense and homeland security (unmanned aircraft and sensor-based device prototyping) and civil infrastructure (smart city and utility support), among other areas.

Introducing Rosen at the NJ Makers Day event, Donald Sebastian, NJII president, recounted some of the history of manufacturing in Newark and nearby locales in New Jersey. He noted that, as manufacturing has become more automated, it has gotten out of the hands of the inventor. “As we got bigger and bigger and more complex, we lost the ability to do things ourselves. We lost the hands-on,” he told the attendees.

Although there are still “vastly complex manufacturing technologies that are part of the future,” such as  biotechnology processes, nanomanufacturing, and highly automated mass production, now individuals can once again, through new accessible technologies, “take ideas and put them into action to cross that line from fantasy to actualization.”

Sebastian said it was fitting to partner with an entity that would bring a model shop, makerspace and even short-run light production capacity “back here to New Jersey, not just for large-scale corporate clients and not just for our students, but ultimately to push it all the way down to where we need to influence mind share,” said Rosen, referring to grade school children.

He added that TechX Foundry would be taking over NJIT’s center for manufacturing systems, a 7,000 square foot “high bay” manufacturing facility, and will “reinvent it, reimagine it as a makerspace, a model shop that will serve our students, hobbyists, inventors, incubator companies.”

“Our partnership is an important initiative for both NJII and TechX Foundry,” Rosen told NJTechWeekly.  “We both have goals to support cluster development and growth in local manufacturing, and partnering together will help accelerate advanced and technology manufacturing in the New Jersey and New York Metro Area.  We anticipate creating a model makerspace using NJIT’s current facilities and using it as a spoke and extension to the TechX Foundry regional Innovation Centers.

During the event, Rosen added that the idea for TechX Foundry came from his background in working with tech entrepreneurs. When entrepreneurs want to bring a hardware/software concept to market, they ask, “How do I do that?” The answer is that they need to find someone to make it for them, and that company or person is often located in Asia.

“We have an opportunity now” to bring manufacturing closer to the New Jersey entrepreneur, Rosen said. Economic boundaries are shifting, he added. Now potential manufactures can have access to a complete facility with millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, for a monthly charge of a couple of hundred dollars. Along with the equipment, they’ll have access to experts from academia and local corporations who can help them bring these things to market, and with no capital costs, he continued.

TechX Foundry is bringing the digital and the physical worlds together, said Rosen, “so that we can create the hardware of the future, so that we can create that smart hardware that is going into autonomous vehicles, and into smart cities to make things more efficient and more effective.” 

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