CDL-Seattle supporting innovation in manufacturing with new startup stream

This summer, Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is debuting a new stream out of its Seattle location, headquartered at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Ventures selected to participate in CDL Manufacturing will receive opportunities for funding as well as networking. In addition, they will have access to world-class mentorship from scientists and academics from the UW, and seasoned engineers and entrepreneurs from the ranks of Boeing, Microsoft and more.

CDL will be accepting 20 to 25 pre-seed to pre-Series A startups focusing on additive manufacturing, advanced materials, industrial Internet of Things, machine intelligence, robotics, simulation tools and workforce augmentation.

Enormous opportunity

“Manufacturing is one of the last bastions of non-digitized processes,” explains Emer Dooley, CDL-Seattle site lead and the Charlene M. and Arthur W. Buerk Endowed Faculty Fellow at Foster.

There is huge potential for existing technology to be applied to this industry, which has been under-targeted. Greater automation, new high-tech materials, as well as advances in software and robotics have created the optimal environment for breakthroughs in startup-led software-enabled manufacturing.

CDL-Seattle staff and associates at a session of its initial Computational Health stream in April.

“The digital transformation of the manufacturing sector is long overdue,” says Rob Meyerson, CDL-Seattle Manufacturing mentor and founder and CEO of Delalune Space, a management consulting company focused on aerospace, mobility, technology and investment.

As the former president of Blue Origin, he also oversaw that organization’s growth from a 10-person research team into a more than 1,500-person operation. “We’re excited to apply Creative Destruction Lab’s proven methods to this critical sector.”

Epicenter of manufacturing innovation

CDL has chosen Seattle and the University of Washington as the base for its Manufacturing stream as the city is home to some of the largest high-tech design and manufacturing firms in the world, including Boeing (the biggest exporter in the country), PACCAR, SpaceX Starlink, Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile and Blue Origin are also headquartered in the Seattle region.

The industry is ripe for disruption. Speed and flexibility aren’t the only market demands on production today, there’s also an increasing need for agility to support customization of goods as well as expectations surrounding sustainability and waste reduction at all stages of the manufacturing process. Part and parcel with how things are made is where they are made. Both in the U.S. and abroad there is political interest in shoring up the domestic means of production.

The digital transformation of the manufacturing sector is long overdue.” – Rob Meyerson

“The pandemic combined with climate change and the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape are likely to have a force-multiplier effect that will enable a time of unprecedented change in all aspects of where and how things are made,” says CDL Manufacturing mentor Scott Schiller, who was a VP and head of global market development for Hewlett Packard’s 3D printing business until 2021.

“CDL Manufacturing represents an amazing opportunity to take the great work that has been done to create the technologies that fall under the Industry 4.0 umbrella and deploy them as feedstock for startups focused on solving the problems of the future.”

Adapting the CDL model

CDL-Seattle pairs participating founders with accomplished entrepreneurs and engineers who have decades of experience in manufacturing and want to help the next generation succeed.

When asked about the possibilities for the new CDL Manufacturing stream, Kristjan Sigurdson, director of CDL-Seattle, imagines startups scaling AI- and data-infused approaches to manufacturing that would revolutionize areas of the production line, the introduction of new materials and nano-engineering, as well as advances in cloud computing and connectivity which under-write the industrial Internet of Things.

Creative Destruction Lab logo“There’s a huge amount of interest in that diversification of where things are made and being able to produce on the spot flexibly,” says Sigurdson.

As we enter this new age of advanced manufacturing, tech will have a competitive edge over labor costs. That’s why CDL Manufacturing will work with pre-seed and seed-stage startups to massively scale their enterprises.

The launch of CDL Manufacturing is supported by new founding partner Ken Birdwell, the founder and chairman of the grant-making organization Magic Cabinet. “As the first employee of the Bellevue, WA-based Valve Corporation, one of the most successful video game developers in the world, Ken’s endorsement of the work we are doing at CDL-Seattle is extremely valuable. We are thrilled to bring Ken into our community, and look forward to tapping his expertise in company-building for the benefit of our startups as well,” says Dooley.

About Creative Destruction Lab

Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a nonprofit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. Its nine-month program allows founders to learn from experienced entrepreneurs, increasing their likelihood of success. Founded in 2012 by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, the program has expanded to 11 sites across five countries. Participating ventures have created $19 billion (CAD) in equity value.

CDL’s Manufacturing stream will be the second headquartered in Seattle, joining the existing Computational Health stream, which will graduate its first cohort of companies this summer.

Build something massive

Companies and founders interested in applying to the CDL Manufacturing stream can contact [email protected] for more information. Applications will be accepted online until July 31, 2022.

For media inquiries, please contact Amarpreet Kaur, associate director of Creative Destruction Laboratory, at [email protected]creativedestructionlab.com.