Support for hardware start-ups

— Alexandra Rydz

Start-ups, partners, and other interested parties from the industry and hardware sector came together this week for a special kind of workshop: a tech safari with various stand-alone stations allowing participants to experience the journey from idea to product.
Start-A-Factory at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM has already been compared to a range of existing start-up offers, including MakerSpace, coworking offices, and the Fraunhofer Accelerator. However, none of these comparisons does the concept justice. Start-A-Factory (SAF for short) combines device infrastructure with a working environment designed to meet the specific requirements of hardware start-ups. Embedded in a network of Fraunhofer IZM specialists and other partners, the SAF environment employs project-based partnerships and state-of-the-art systems, enabling development teams to go quickly from initial idea to professional prototype.
Now that all the elements are in place and ready for use, the creators have organized a walk-around event. In addition to workshops showcasing the individual stages of microelectronic hardware development, the keynotes were a special highlight. Mike Richardson, Founder, and Technical Advisor – but also a container user himself at SAF –explained to the audience what the nerds of the future will look like. “The special thing
about a tech dork is the mix of a nerd and a communicative and social person.”

“The special thing about a tech dork is the mix of a nerd and a communicative and social person.”

Mike Richardson

SAF also illustrates that conducting research and establishing a start-up in the hardware sector need not be boring. The six containers, which resemble an industrial production facility, will be made available as workspaces for teams of developers who wish to develop hardware and – most importantly – prototypes as part of a joint project. An impressive range of equipment, from pick-and-place machines to 3D printers, offers developers the opportunity to turn their ideas into products.

Start-A-Factory is now ready to go and is opening the workshop season with
partners and friends — and with new and interested parties too.

The guests and partners on-site were thrilled with SAF. Participants enjoyed a lively exchange as part of a relaxed get-together at the grill, discussing their journey of technological discovery in addition to the versatility of this special infrastructure environment and the possibilities it will offer start-ups, SMEs, and other teams of developers. New partners and container users are already lining up for future partnerships.