What We Do
The Bronx is rich with creativity and entrepreneurship. Nurturing the Bronx’s existing creative talent and building on the borough’s strong manufacturing history, the Bronx Innovation Factory (BXIF) works with Bronxites to develop new products and businesses that solve challenges faced by our communities. We work with adolescents and young adults (ages 14 to 30), prospective entrepreneurs, existing businesses, and workforce and small business development organizations. Together, we are building shared wealth and ownership for Bronxites and repositioning the Bronx as a center for quality production and innovation.
The BXIF accomplishes its mission through four key program elements:
Shared Fabrication Facilities. Through our fab lab, we offer access to 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, electronics, and more.
Training & Workshops. We provide hands-on opportunities to introduce and deepen knowledge on manufacturing and design, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic democracy.
Business Incubation. We provide targeted support for entrepreneurs and include a focus on shared-wealth enterprises.
Ecosystem Building. We build strategic partnerships with key institutions to support a more equitable advanced manufacturing sector throughout the Bronx.
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Advanced manufacturing is just beginning to develop as a major economic sector. We have the chance—and the responsibility—now to ensure that people of color, women, and low-income people can not only participate in but lead this rapidly emerging field.
At the Bronx Innovation Factory, we believe that technology is a powerful tool Bronxites can use to solve community challenges, and that the lived experiences of Bronxites are a key source of knowledge to drive technological innovation forward in more equitable and just ways. As a project of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, we are part of a larger network of community-based organizations, anchor institutions, elected officials, labor unions, and finance partners working to achieve a more equitable, sustainable, and democratic Bronx economy—what we call economic democracy.
Below are just a few of the resources that have inspired us, specifically at the intersection of technology and social justice. For a full list of economic democracy resources or to read more about our guiding principles, please check out bcdi.nyc.
Joy Buolamwini's TEDx talk "How I'm fighting bias in algorithms," on how to prevent programmers from encoding biases into technology (aka “the coded gaze”)
The Technology for Social Justice Project's #MoreThanCode report on how to build technology ecosystems that support social justice and equity
Wired's documentary Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware on how shared intellectual property ecosystems can spur faster innovation
Economic democracy requires stakeholders from multiple sectors to come together and work towards a shared vision in new, different ways. This is especially true for stakeholders who have not traditionally worked together. For this reason, the BXIF works in close coordination with partners across the Bronx, New York City, and the world.
In addition, the Bronx Innovation Factory is a proud member of the Bronx Digital Pipeline, along with the following institutions:
What is advanced manufacturing?
We define advanced manufacturing as people using computer technology to design and make products. Common technologies include 3D printers; computer-controlled machines that cut or carve metal, wood, plastics, or other materials; and specialized 3D design software.
Advanced manufacturing allows new products to be prototyped, tested, and redesigned quickly and inexpensively. It also allows for custom products to be made on demand, with minimal equipment and within a small, urban footprint.
Because of this, advanced manufacturing can help democratize innovation. We have the chance now to ensure that low-income people of color and women can not only participate in but lead this emerging sector.
What do you mean by "economic democracy"?
Economic democracy exists when a local economy serves the community and enables community members to meet their own needs, address community challenges, and build community wealth and wellbeing. For the Bronx Innovation Factory, this means that Bronxites own and govern the assets in their community, and make decisions about how resources are distributed. Under economic democracy, the people most affected by economic decisions are the ones who get to make them, creating more positive outcomes.
Some of the ways we are integrating economic democracy in the Bronx Innovation Factory include giving members control over key decisions, supporting cooperative ownership models for newly created businesses, and promoting technologies that serve and are accountable to the wider Bronx community.