Just a few months ago, we told you about a group of graduate students from the University of Bristol who developed a really interesting product for their final engineering project: it’s called the Omni Invent, the desktop maker machine. The multifunctional CNC machine combines 3D printing technology milling, metrology, and component placement in one low-cost platform. The Omni Invent machine can change tools automatically, and allows for the quick, precise production of more functional and durable parts. Since they first developed the Omni Invent, the four Bristol graduates have been busy, attracting funding, continuing to develop the machine, and earning a spot with a leading hardware accelerator.
The Omni team, who together founded the BUILD Society while attending university, is made up of CEO Jack Pearson, CTO Glen Cahill, COO Ed Cooper, and CFO Alex Michaels. Their ingenious invention has been referred to as a ‘workshop in a box,’ and allows users to create smart products right from their desks. The first iteration was developed for their Engineering Design Masters Project and supported by the Manufacturing Technology Center. For the project, Pearson, Cahill, Cooper, and Michaels had to determine a way to improve 3D printing, and set out investigating methods that could optimize the functionality, strength, and speed of the technology. Thus, the Omni Invent was born, as the team worked to enable users of all skill levels to create products and complex prototypes on one machine.
Now, their mission with the Omni Invent is to democratize manufacturing, and stay at the front of the customizable manufacturing revolution, as the need for production on demand and customization continues to grow. The team got their first round of funding soon after graduation, from Jisc, the higher education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organization for digital solutions and services. The Jisc Supporting Technology Startups scheme gave the Omni startup £20,000 in product development funds, as well as six months of pitching opportunities and business mentorship. Soon after, the startup members attracted the attention of Hax while on a trip to China.
Touted as being the world’s first and largest hardware accelerator, Hax has accelerated a total of 118 companies through its HAX Accelerator program. The team’s interview and pitch video impressed Hax, which is owned by SOSV, one of the most active seed funds in the world, and Hax gladly offered its support to Omni. Hax gives startup teams mentorship, investment, and workshop space in Shenzhen, China, which is known as the ‘Silicon Valley for hardware.’ Hax works across a total of five themes:
Omni landed alongside the top 3% of applicants to win a spot in the Hax Accelerator Program, and will be able to quickly develop their prototype into a real product, thanks to the large hardware markets and “world class manufacturing ecosystem” that make up Shenzhen. After a required “pre-launch” development time of six months, the startup will demo their Omni Invent product in San Francisco at the Hax Demo Day; Hax calls this the “post-launch” and is a way for startups to gain even more investments to help bring their products to the market. This next round of funding after the demo day should allow the team to fully launch their Omni Invent product in early 2018, after which the team plans to continue growing its business offerings.
The Omni team is also competing in the Digital Processes and Transformation category in the upcoming Capgemini Innovators Race 50, for a chance to win $50,000 in funding, and have the opportunity to network with renowned entrepreneurs and other startups. If you want to vote for Team Omni (also called EngX) just click the Login to Vote button; you can log in to the Capgemini page through Facebook or Google, then just return to Team Omni’s page and click Vote. You can watch the team’s pitch video below:
Discuss in the Omni Invent forum at 3DPB.com.