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

7/28/11Follow @XconomyDET

At first glance, the nondescript office park at 800 Republic Drive in Allen Park, MI, is notable only for being situated next to the Detroit Lions’ practice facility. That’s set to change on Nov. 18, when the building will be transformed into TechShop Detroit, a joint project between Ford and TechShop, the DIY communal fabrication studio where everyone from garage-workshop tinkerers to tech-savvy rocket scientists can come and create their own homegrown inventions.

Ford is the first automaker to work with Menlo Park, CA-based TechShop, which operates a network of membership-based workshops similar to health clubs, except instead of getting access to treadmills and barbells, members who pay $100 per month can get their hands on 3D printers, laser cutters, industrial-grade sewing and textile equipment, vehicle bays, and virtually every kind of tool and software you can imagine. And the Detroit outpost of TechShop will be the first one to be paired with a facility geared toward helping TechShop members commercialize their inventions.

Imagination, says Jim Newton, TechShop’s founder and chairman, is the entire impetus for the operation.

“All we care about is that you have an idea, and our staff will help you turn that idea into a real, live thing,” Newton said at a press event today. “Our mission is not that big—we just want to usher in the next Industrial Revolution.”

TechShop Detroit will also help fuel a vision that Ford Global Technologies, the domestic auto industry’s only internal intellectual property management and licensing group, hopes to bring to life—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.

“The showroom idea can be considered TechShop Plus,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies. “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, which will be housed in the Republic Drive facility alongside TechShop, will be managed by the Detroit-based AutoHarvest Foundation, a new nonprofit organization set up by auto executives to help connect the … Next Page »

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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