Guest post from Matt Bilsky, CEO/Founder of FLX Solutions
TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo June 19-21 in Washington DC was one of the most unique conferences I’ve attended as it works to blend Academia with Startups and Industry. I’d liken it to a mashup between ICRA and RoboBusiness.
I think this is epitomized by the co-location of the SBIR/STTR Innovation summit as part of the event. A key goal of the SBIR program is to translate basic research from universities into startups and beyond. All stakeholders in this mission were present at the event.
The expo floor was home to a mix of university tech transfer offices and student teams showcasing their latest innovations alongside large corporations like Northrup Grumman and startups of all stages. Expo day 1 included corporate innovation scout speed dating where companies can interact with over a dozen large companies across multiple industries including chemical production, manufacturing, and mining. The second day of the expo swapped corporate scouts for SBIR agency managers who were willing to meet with companies to discuss their work and potential programs they should apply to.
Throughout the event were 5 minute presentations by researchers and startups discussing their current and next generation technologies. This includes a presentation by BotBuilt founder Brent Wadas, a TechConnect Innovation Finalist, revolutionizing how homes are framed using robots.
The future of research (and funding) was also envisioned during the NSF erVa workshop (Engineering Research Visioning Alliance) who worked to identify key basic research that will be needed over the next 15-30 years to support research and startups across Sustainable Materials, AI & Machine Learning, Antimicrobial Resistance & Food Security.
The finals for the ATI Advanced Manufacturing Challenge were also held during the event. 25 finalist companies were selected to give 5 minute presentations to a panel of judges from Navy stakeholders including defense contractors, shipyards and Navy program officers from MANTECH, NAVSEA, NAVAIR.
Pitch your technical project proposal to major OEMs and military leadership, representing multi-billion in funded projects seeking dual-use solutions aligned with Naval focused investment areas.
Finalists ranged from academic institutions with novel technologies at the start of their commercial journey to early and mid-stage startup companies. There were a large number of 3D printing innovations addressing printing technologies, material innovations, optimization, and part generation. Novel communication technologies, asset tracking, and material innovations were also shared.
Two robotic companies were finalists in the ATI Challenge: AVIOT, a low-cost, humanoid robot that works alongside your team taking on repetitive manual labor, so workers can spend more time on the things that matter most and the FLX BOT from FLX Solutions.
The winner of the Advanced Manufacturing Challenge was Matt Bilsky, Founder and CEO of FLX Solutions, who build robots to minimize interruptions in manufacturing and other industry facilities. Their flagship product, the FLX BOT, is a patented 1″ diameter snake-like robot. It revolutionizes preventative maintenance by making it possible for technicians to reach and service areas that were previously inaccessible.