The makers who run NextFab Studio aren’t the only people excited about their recent move to a larger location on Washington Avenue in South Philly.
An estimated crowd of 650 interested neighbors packed the two-floor, 21,000-square-foot facility on Thursday for the grand opening.
Formerly run out of University City, the studio — a membership-based, high-tech workshop and prototyping center, billing itself as “Philadelphia’s gym for innovators” — now boasts a “residency” program in addition to its traditional membership options.
NextFab President Evan Malone used the occasion to announce the first two residents: Love Park Robotics, which develops control and navigation software for autonomous robotic vehicles and High Tide Innovations, a newly-formed medical device company that seeks to help solve problems faced by surgeons in the operating room.
Through the residency program, NextFab is “dipping a toe into the realm of incubating ideas and startups,” said Malone, of the space that also hosts a cafe.
And that contributes to what “really represents the spirit of the city right now” said Philadelphia Chief Cultural Officer, Gary Steuer, “this incredible intersection of creativity, art, culture, design, science and technology, all coming together with the spirit of collaboration.” Steuer also noted that he was sporting NextFab-made Sharif Pendleton cufflinks.
The opening featured facility tours, presentations by Professor Youngmoo Kim and the newly opened Drexel ExCITe Center, as well as demos of the high-tech machinery that lives at NextFab, including a 3D printer and water-jet cutting machine.
The sweetest part of the night? A goodie bag containing a three-dimensional chocolate, laser cut into the NextFab logo, hidden inside of a paper pyramid.