It’s been almost two and a half years after since Philly makerspace NextFab launched its RAPID accelerator program in a bid to help hardware startups bring their gear to market.
Now on the hunt for its sixth group of companies, the makerspace said the program — which since 2017 includes a $25,000 seed investment and access to more capital through a follow-on fund plus connections to other backers — has begun drawing interest beyond Philly.
“Things have changed a lot since 2016 when we launched the program,” says Todor Raykov, NextFab’s venture services manager, who runs the accelerator program. “There seemed to be a real dearth of new hardware companies at the time.”
Raykov said the stack of companies applying now looks different, with companies from other states applying to RAPID, in some cases relocating to Philadelphia or opening a Philly office.
Two examples of out-of-state RAPID grads are Hexmodal, a Barrington, R.I.-based company that makes connected emergency lights, and Boston-based Unruly Studios, makers of programmable floor tiles that help kids learn the basics of coding.
RAPID is an acronym for (deep breath): Revenue through Advanced manufacturing, Product development, Innovation, and Design thinking. Aside from the seed funding, the selected companies get access to workshops, mentorship and connections to local resources (think consulting firms, investors, law firms).
According to NextFab, the 23 companies that have gone through the accelerator program thus far have collectively raised close to $3 million in capital, and some 40 jobs have been created by the startups since 2016.
“It’s feels great to be a part of this process and to know that your work helps entrepreneurs bring tangible improvements to the world,” said Raykov.
Companies interested in joining the spring cohort of the program can apply by Feb. 15.
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