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ybilogoYou probably know a lot of people who have great business ideas and even possess a few yourself. From something unique like an automotive gadget to a transforming new medical device, there are infinite ways to offer change and make improvements to nearly any industry today. But while it’s one thing to have an idea rolling around in your head, bringing it forth is another altogether. We may have the best intentions for setting the world on fire with that amazing new concept, but that day job, taking care of family, and paying the bills often come first. And then, there’s that little matter of capital. Without it, even the best ideas often get snuffed out before they really get going.

For some innovators, however, the drive to succeed and put their ideas out there is so compelling that it becomes priority number one. That dream turns into a real spark, evolving into a design—and one that may indeed be completely viable in the marketplace. The team starts thinking about a prototype, financial strategies are outlined, and both the product and business plan are on their way to being solid. While there might still be a long way to go, today there are numerous programs available to assist innovators and startups hoping to launch the next great thing—and especially in 3D printing.

Incubators and challenges offer a great way to nurture that beginning business, and we report on a lot of activity coming from America Makes, an organization that has become known as an accelerator for startups within the additive manufacturing space. From launching multiple project calls for innovations needing a launching pad within the 3D printing industry to awarding millions in funding to those chosen, we’ve also seen them engaged in other fairly massive interests like a new Directed Project Opportunity to improve US Air Force sustainment operations.

am logoNow, America Makes—a part of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute—is working again with The Youngstown Business Incubator and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation (BDMF) as they launch another startup competition with AMPED 2016. Just like last year as we followed their 2015 competition, we see another $100K challenge headed by YBI, focusing on both additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This year, the challenge opened on July 1st but has a deadline of October 17th.

Those who make the finalist round (announced on October 28th) will introduce their management teams, marketing strategies, and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges with industry experience. The winners will, according to a recent press release by YBI, receive world class business support from YBI as well as access to a worldwide network comprised of more than eight thousand business and technology professionals.

To be eligible, you must be part of an early stage startup or existing business aspiring to commercialize new technology. Applicants must also live in Northeast Ohio, or be willing to relocate. Ultimately, the winner will be awarded an equity investment of up to $100K, met as they achieve outlined phases. Winners will be chosen according to superior business and technical skills, along with a strong business model indicating viable market opportunity.

 “Burton D. Morgan Foundation supports programs that champion the entrepreneurial spirit and contribute to building a more robust economy in Northeast Ohio. We believe AMPED aligns with our mission by providing entrepreneurs with the resources they need to create that next great idea,” said Deborah Hoover, President and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

While any tech-based businesses are welcomed, it helps if startups who apply are ‘in alignment’ with the America Makes Technology Roadmap, a concept we’ve delved into previously as it is part of what helps them outline and accomplish their goals in so many of their projects. If applicants meet the key points, they receive extra points in the scoring rubric. The Roadmap entails the following focal areas:

  • Design: Ideas that avoid constraints from fundamental limitations associated with current design tools or practices that were originally developed for conventional manufacturing processes.
  • Material: Creating a paradigm shift away from controlling process parameters to controlling the underlying physics of the additive manufacturing to achieve consistent reproducible microstructures.
  • Process: Driving technological advancements that enable faster, more accurate, and higher detail resolution additive manufacturing machines with larger build volumes and improved “as-built” part quality.
  • Value Chain: Driving technological advancements that enable step change improvements in cost and time to market for additive manufacturing produced products.
  • Additive Manufacturing Genome: Accelerating technological advancements that enable step change in the time and cost required to design, develop, and qualify new materials for additive manufacturing.

As all involved work further to encourage innovation and spur on entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio, this will mark the second year that YBI has sponsored the competition with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and America Makes. YBI and America Makes are located on the same campus and they work together on a variety of projects. Currently, there are ten 3D printing based startup companies housed at YBI.

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Last year saw three local companies receive funding due to their participation in the competition:

  • JuggerBot 3D – founded by three recent YSU engineering alumni, produces an affordable industrial grade 3D printer compatible with a range of materials, offering an exceptional user interface.
  • Smart 3D Solutions –  their new StrideSense system enables all runners to perform faster, safer, and more efficiently by providing real-time feedback on their running form.
  • Freshmade 3D – uses digital manufacturing for making rare and custom parts for the restoration industry with a unique crowd-sharing option for part development.

 “This is another great example of integrating additive manufacturing technology startups and their innovative solutions to the national additive manufacturing ecosystem,” added Rob Gorham, Director of Operations at America Makes.

Visit YBI for the full Rules and Requirements regarding this competition.

You can submit your application to AMPED here. Any questions should be sent to Gianna Centofanti at gcentofanti@ybi.org. And if you’d like more information on the America Makes Technology Roadmap, please visit America Makes. Discuss this challenge further over in the YBI & America Makes 3D Printing Startup Competition forum over at 3DPB.com.

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