Nonprofit FORGE is bringing ‘nearshoring’ to US startups

There’s a persistent theory in hardware that manufacturing overseas is the cheaper/better/more efficient option. You manufacture there, assemble somewhere else, and finally approve and get to market in the United States.

But it turns out that it’s possible to manufacture closer to home. With supply chains in the news more than ever, “nearshoring” is an option for startups; it turns out you can build in your own backyard many of the things you can build overseas, with surprising benefits along the way.

To learn more about how to pull your manufacturing back — or to set up a local supply chain in the first place — we connected with FORGE, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that’s on a mission to assist innovators in building relationships with manufacturers and designers much closer to home. So far, it has supported over 600 startups with their manufacturing, product development and supply chain needs, and it wants to help many, many more.

“We help innovators, folks with innovative products, companies, individual inventors, specifically with their product development, manufacturing and supply chain,” explained Laura Teicher, FORGE’s executive director. “There’s a tremendous number of support organizations in the ecosystem, but many of them are focused on business planning, fundraising, on these other aspects of business. And hardware is hard. It has a higher failure rate. It has additional challenges. And that’s where FORGE is laser-focused.”

Hardware is indeed hard. Inventions don’t spring fully formed from their inventors’ brains, and manufacturing at scale is particularly challenging. So let’s take a closer look at FORGE, how it works and how it helps founders potentially manufacture on the other side of town instead of the other side of the world.


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