NextFab bringing product development “gym” to Wilmington


nextfab-3711-market-street.480.305.sNextFab Studio, LLC, will soon expand operations south of Philadelphia and open a site in   Wilmington with assistance from a $350,000 Delaware Strategic Fund grant recently approved by the Council on Development Finance.

“Known for our willingness to embrace change and foster growth, Delaware welcomes NextFab’s pioneering business model, bringing with it a focus on entrepreneurship and product development,” Governor Jack Markell said. “The company’s creative approach to making much-needed technological resources and education available, as well as its commitment to reinvigorating American manufacturing, makes NextFab a perfect addition to Wilmington’s downtown Creative District.”

The district includes Quaker Hill, a neighborhood that adjoins downtown. The Creative District initiative aims to attract artists and artisans to an area where they can create and sell their offerings.

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Evan Malone, NextFab’s mission is to  “foster personal fulfillment, innovation, and economic development through providing broad-based awareness of, access to, competence with, and commerce enabled by Next-generation digital design and Fabrication technologies and services. Like a gym for exercising your creativity, there are no prerequisites to joining NextFab as a member, and NextFab’s member community includes more than 650 individuals from all backgrounds.

NextFab members have direct access to equipment, software, training, consultants in  mastering new tools and techniques, and turning an idea into a product and business.

NextFab’s instructors and consultants span a wide range of disciplines and experience, including engineering, arts, business, and science.

An example of the company’s work, according to a recent blog entry, was work in Philadelphia to find creative uses for DuPont’s Corian surface material.

NextFab currently operates two facilities in Philadelphia, and plans to open its latest 3,500 square-foot facility in Wilmington’s Creative District in the first half of 2016.

“It has been more than a year since Dr. Carrie Gray of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) brought a stakeholder group from Wilmington to visit us in Philadelphia. Since that time, my colleagues and I have made frequent trips to Wilmington, and have been warmly welcomed into the community and inspired by champions of the past, present, and future of the city,” recalled  Malone. “NextFab is honored and humbled that Governor Markell, Director Whaley, and the Council on Development Finance have entrusted to us some of the resources of the taxpayers of Delaware. We look forward to transforming those resources into tools, training, and technology in the hands of the innovators of Wilmington’s creative economy.”

“We are thrilled that NextFab has identified Wilmington’s Creative District as the right location for their expansion,” said Gray, WRC managing director. “NextFab’s maker space will be the first of its kind in Wilmington and represents an next integral step for the Creative District. Not only will NextFab complement and enhance our existing tech, maker, and entrepreneurial community, but it also represents a unique opportunity to create a key intersection between the arts and tech worlds that NextFab fosters so well.”

“We’re excited that NextFab chose to expand here in Delaware,” commented Delaware Economic Development Office Director Bernice Whaley. “In addition to creating jobs, NextFab will directly support our innovative entrepreneurs, as well bolster indirect job growth through its variety of services.”

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