Ford, TechShop Reveal Home of Detroit-Area Workshop; Urge Everyday Inventors to Create, Build and Sell
- TechShop Detroit, a joint project between Ford and do-it-yourself (DIY) enterprise TechShop, is scheduled to open in November in Allen Park, Mich.
- Ford and TechShop will preview the facility this week during Maker Faire Detroit, held July 30-31 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn
- Ford reveals plan to incorporate a first-of-its-kind ‘Innovation Exchange’ in collaboration with non-profit AutoHarvest, giving everyday inventors, industry insiders, universities and research labs a secure place to display and even license their innovations
DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford and TechShop have announced that Allen Park, Mich., is the home of TechShop Detroit, the communal fabrication studio where everyday inventors, from backyard tinkerers to tech-savvy engineers, can come and create their very-own homegrown innovations.
Set to open in Allen Park, Mich., TechShop Detroit is the culmination of a year’s worth of collaboration between Ford and TechShop, the world’s first and largest membership-based do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop enterprise that also has locations in California and North Carolina.
Ford is the first automaker to work with TechShop to open one of its centers, which offer creative minds of all kinds affordable access to tools, machinery and even “dream coaches” so they can design and develop prototypes of their latest inventions, both automotive and otherwise.
“We are excited to see what started as a simple idea and conversation between Ford and TechShop take physical form so quickly,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies, the domestic auto industry’s only internal intellectual property management and licensing group. “We want this space to inspire all inventive individuals and communities in and around Detroit to innovate and create.”
Ford and TechShop first met up in spring 2010 at the largest DIY showcase, Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., where Ford was invited to display an open innovation app creation project that company researchers developed with University of Michigan students. That gathering helped ignite the duo’s idea for TechShop Detroit, which was announced only a year ago at the first Maker Faire Detroit.
Mark Hatch, TechShop CEO, is thrilled to see TechShop Detroit become a reality so quickly and envisions limitless possibilities for the location, especially considering its proximity to the Ford engineering campus, nearby universities and the downtown area. According to recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of under-35 college-educated creatives taking up residence in downtown Detroit is on the rise, bucking the city’s overall population decline over the past 10 years.
“Detroit is a market area full of talented communities of makers, hobbyists, backyard mechanics and general tinkerers that continues to grow,” said Hatch, who already has more than 1,500 TechShop members registered at his California and North Carolina workshops. “We are excited to open TechShop Detroit and continue our collaboration with Ford to offer an affordable place to go that has the necessary equipment and resources to make inventive ideas a reality.”
With more than $1 million invested in high-tech equipment alone, TechShop Detroit will feature everything from top-quality prototyping tools and industrial-grade sewing and textile equipment to laser cutting, welding and machine shop-type gear.
TechShop Detroit will be located in the Fairlane Business Park at 800 Republic Drive in a Ford Land-owned property.
Hub of ideas
The official arrival of TechShop to Detroit is also fueling another vision that Ford Global Technologies hopes to bring to life just as quickly and at the same address — a first-of-its-kind intellectual property exchange and technology showroom where everyday inventors, industry insiders, universities and research labs can display and even license their automotive innovations and other ideas.
“This showroom idea can be considered TechShop ‘Plus,’” said Coughlin. “It will be an open meeting place that will enable inventors to showcase what they create in TechShop and then negotiate, network and even sell their idea to players in the automotive industry, from manufacturers and suppliers to research institutions and startups.”
The Innovation Exchange concept is a brick-and-mortar extension of the Detroit-based AutoHarvest Foundation, a new non-profit organization set up by several respected automotive executives to help connect the auto industry with metro Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ford Global Technologies, along with other automakers, suppliers, universities and research centers actively support AutoHarvest.
What’s unique about the AutoHarvest connection, said Coughlin who serves as chairman of the group’s Innovation Advisory Council, is that it gives the technology exchange showroom concept and those that use it an established collaborative and secure online platform where intellectual property is shared but also properly protected.
“Selling your technology can be difficult and daunting,” he said. “The Innovation Exchange is all about helping spread the word about the innovation occurring inside Tech Shop, giving the creator the foundational resources they need to understand how to sell and commercialize their idea and connect with the right players while protecting their intellectual property.”
Managed by AutoHarvest, the Innovation Exchange would be open to the entire automotive community as well as individual makers in other industries, empowering the crowd to help create and bring to market the next must-have technologies.
Engaging the crowd
By extending the invitation to innovate to automotive outsiders, Ford has already charted a number of great successes in terms of products, services, advanced research and new relationships with unlikely players, from technology leaders such as Google and mobile healthcare providers such as WellDoc to individual app developers and consumers.
Earlier this year, Ford shared how it was applying Google’s Prediction API to convert information such as historical driving data into useful real-time predictions for drivers. Ford researchers presented a hypothetical case of how the Google API could alter performance of a PHEV at the 2011 Google I/O developer conference.
In addition, this spring Ford offered up its vision for health and wellness inside the car, announcing collaborative research projects with mobile healthcare providers including WellDoc and SDI Health to incorporate disease management information such as glucose and allergy monitoring into the in-car experience via Ford SYNC®.
Ford is also building relationships with individual app developers in its quest to broaden the portfolio of smartphone apps that could benefit the driver and be controlled via voice through Ford SYNC. More than 2,500 interested app developers have visited the Ford SYNC website www.syncmyride.com/developer to submit their ideas and sign up for the latest information about the SYNC API and software development kit.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
About TechShop, Inc.
Founded in October 2006, TechShop, Inc. is a membership-based, do-it-yourself workshop and fabrication studio, providing access to a vibrant community of highly creative people and more than $1 million worth of high-quality machines, tools, and software. Based in Menlo Park, CA, TechShop features locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Raleigh, NC, and soon to open a location in Detroit. TechShop offers training, instruction and workshop space for people of all skill levels. For more information, visit www.techshop.ws.
The AutoHarvest Foundation was created to inspire and harness entrepreneurship, form groundbreaking collaborations, foster job creation, strengthen the advanced manufacturing (automotive-centric) sector and accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Driven by industry leadership, AutoHarvest is revolutionizing how the automotive industry deploys its intellectual property, human capabilities and underutilized assets through a safe, online marketplace and ecosystem that reaches from the largest corporations, the traditional and nontraditional value chains to grassroots innovators. AutoHarvest, a Southeast Michigan 501(c)(3), was founded by industry experts Dr. David E. Cole and Jayson D. Pankin and joined by top executives from the advanced manufacturing, IT, and technology commercialization arenas. For more information, please visit: www.autoharvest.org.
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