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A Look Inside the Advanced Prototyping Center, Where Good Ideas Become Groundbreaking Cleantech Hardware Solutions

On behalf of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), LACI is fortunate to be the stewards of the world-class La Kretz Innovation Campus (LKIC). The campus serves as the front door and epicenter for regional cleantech innovation. Thanks in large part to the amenities and resources the campus offers, LACI is able to provide the critical support startups need to develop their technologies and grow their businesses. 

Those who have visited LKIC know the campus is not all co-working space and conference rooms. The campus provides several unique offerings, including the LADWP’s Sustainable Living and Customer Engagement Labs, LA’s first greywater filtration and microgrid systems, and–a favorite of visitors and startups alike–the Advanced Prototyping Center (APC). 

The APC was imagined, designed, and constructed less than 10 years ago to meet the needs of innovators, and provide an opportunity for training individuals in how to work in the Cleantech economy. It even has served as a resource for artists as well as entrepreneurs. 

Thanks to the physical space provided by LADWP along with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and other partners, the APC has become an innovator’s dream. The space includes an electronics lab, chemistry lab, sewing lab, 3-5 Axis CNC machining, lathe and metal working centers, water jet, welding shop, a diverse 3D printing shop, laser cutters, plastics and woodworking, assembly bay, training rooms, CMM Metrology station and more. Startups that join LACI programs can gain access to all of these resources and more. 

Considering the costs of commercial machinery, the APC serves as a boost to early-stage startups that often lack sufficient capital to purchase such equipment on their own. For example, Incubation Cohort 7 company Symmetry Wood relies on the APC’s wet lab and a 50-ton press to prototype their synthetic wood from kombucha waste. 

LACI startups also gain access to skilled LACI staff members who provide technical expertise, fill requests and consult with the startups on how to bring their ideas to life using APC machinery. They also tailor support to meet the individual startup needs, wherever they are in the process of developing their technology. And as the startups continue to grow, the APC remains accessible to the startups as they refine their products and develop additional technologies. 

Through this time-tested approach, LACI is helping to give physical shape to promising ideas of startup founders. Non-LACI startups and entrepreneurs can also apply for APC memberships to gain access to these key resources. 

Notably, LACI’s policy is IP neutral. In other words, the knowledge of a startup’s intellectual property, or IP, is not something that LACI uses or claims a right to in any way. Rather, the ideas and activities in the lab belong to the startups alone, opening the doors to creative freedom for founders. 

For companies like TAINR, from Incubation Cohort 7, the APC has been a prized resource. TAINR is a zero-waste refill technology that empowers retailers to reimagine their bulk aisles, reducing labor times with real-time inventory data while eliminating food safety concerns through a contactless and hygienic system. 

As a proof point to our running joke on campus that no one fully leaves our LACI ecosystem, TAINR’s founder, Camilo Giraldo, is a former LACI staff member who led the commissioning of the APC and onboarded the first LACI startups to make use of its resources. Today, Camilo and his co-founders continue to leverage the machinery and support that the APC offers to refine their smart refill technology. They also use the campus as the base for their growing company. 

For startups looking for a one-stop shop for ideating, designing, building and testing new clean technology products, the APC is the place to be. Interested startups can learn more and apply for an APC membership HERE


Visit us at the La Kretz Innovation Campus! LACI offers weekly tours to the public, along with longterm workspace rentals.