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GE Chooses Louisville, Kentucky, as Site for its First Micro-Factory "FirstBuild"

Area Development Online News Desk (04/18/2014)
GE’s first micro-factory, "FirstBuild,” will be located in Louisville, Kentucky, at GE Appliances’ headquarters. The company said it is partnering with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to create a new model for the manufacturing industry.

“To win in the appliance industry, we have to innovate faster than ever before since we are now competing with companies that apply their rapid electronic products introduction strategy to the appliance industry,” said Kevin Nolan, GE Appliances’ Vice President of Technology. “This new model will enable us to be more creative in the design and delivery of the products, and do so with lower risk and cost while drastically reducing the time from mind to market. FirstBuild will also enable us to move select products to larger scale production with more confidence because they will have been vetted by the new platform first.”

“We selected Louisville for the first micro-factory because of the strong collaborative innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is nurtured by the U of L and our city government,” said Nolan. “It is also important to be close to GE Appliances’ design and engineering teams to ensure real-time iteration as small batch production of community designs are transitioned to larger scale production.”

The new FirstBuild micro-factory will be located on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus and will officially open this summer. It will harness the power of an open platform and a global co-creation community to power micro-manufacturing capabilities to accelerate the introduction of the products consumers want, when they want them. The location will also enable easy access for engineering, advanced manufacturing and other student activities to build a strong local network of on-site community members.

“Today, America is searching to define its new manufacturing soul,” said Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors. “Many people assume this industrial re-invigoration will come out of the tech hubs of San Francisco, Boston or New York. Trends such as micro-manufacturing powered by co-creation, however, as well as the industrial Internet are showing us that cities like Louisville can again be leaders in the Third Industrial Revolution. FirstBuild is showing us that it is happening right now.”

The new FirstBuild community will focus on the future of cooking as its first set of projects. It will provide a platform for a global community of innovators to prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products, as well as surface new designs. Local community members will be encouraged to work alongside FirstBuild employees to bring the community designs to life at the East Brandeis Avenue micro-factory location.
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