Cross-Border Innovation Groups Establish Manufacturing Accelerator

An effort to strengthen San Diego’s tech startup community by working more closely with the innovation ecosystem in Tijuana has led to the formation of HardTech Labs, a cross-border accelerator program intended to give startup founders access to low-cost manufacturing.

HardTech Labs would initially operate as a kind of virtual umbrella group to help entrepreneurs shape their early stage startup ideas and business models, create prototype products, and move to full-scale manufacturing.

The participants on the U.S. side of the border include the Ansir Innovation Center, a San Diego tech startup incubator; FabLab San Diego; the Co-Merge Workplace in downtown San Diego; and Origo Ventures, a venture fund established in the San Diego region just over two years ago. Participants in Baja California include the Ignitus innovation program developed by the Tijuana Economic Development Corp. and MINK Global, a legal and technical consulting firm in Tijuana.

“I’ve been propounding this idea for awhile,” said Ping Wang, founder and managing partner of the Ansir Innovation Center. “I’m glad it’s finally getting traction.”

As an example of what could be accomplished with a hardware incubator, Wang cited AirDroids, a San Diego startup that raised $929,212 from a Kickstarter campaign that ended March 8. Most of the 1,946 contributions were pre-orders for the Pocket Drone, a tri-copter powerful enough to carry a small, GoPro-type camera aloft—yet small enough to fold into a 7-inch long neoprene carrying case.

FabLab San Diego

FabLab San Diego

“The development of rapid prototyping and software development are needed in San Diego in a big way,” says Robert Reyes, who has supported the effort as founding CEO of San Diego’s StartupCircle and a partner with the Plug and Play startup accelerator program in the city.

The Ansir Innovation Center has the kind of equipment that startups like AirDroids need to … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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