iOrbit identified as a key collaborator of the First Flight Venture Centre

Research Triangle Park, NC - First Flight Venture Center (First Flight) has been selected from over 600 applicants as North Carolina’s only grant recipient for the 20FY Venture Challenge Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA). The $1.3 million award will expand First Flight’s program, Hangar6, an advanced prototyping center, featuring prototyping design assistance and additive manufacturing equipment ranging from 3D printers to laser cutters to wood/welding shop.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that 52 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 36 states will receive grants totaling $35 million to support entrepreneurship, acceleration of company growth, and increased access to risk capital across regional economies. The FY20 Venture Challenge (formerly known as the “i6 Challenge”) seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities, regions or combinations of regions. View the FY20 Venture Challenge grantees here.

Krista Covey, President, First Flight Venture Center stated, “We are thrilled to ‘build and scale’ our 2016 i6 EDA award that established Hangar6. The Hangar6 expansion responds to the unmet needs of companies and entrepreneurs by delivering top tier additive manufacturing education, expert design assistance and more advanced prototyping equipment such as metal printing, advanced 3D printing options, and advanced metal laser cutters to NC companies and entrepreneurs.”  

Covey continued, “We look forward to working with our key collaborators including Touchstone 3D, Research Triangle Regional Partnership, iOrbit Digital Solutions, Eva Garland Consulting, Trig Labs, and a host of partners including engineering, economic development organizations, marketing, design, and business consultants to improve time-to-market, capital efficiencies and better-designed fabrication parts for NC companies, thus enhancing their ability to raise capital or produce new products in a competitive marketplace.”

According to First Flight Board Chair, Mary Musacchia, “The Board is excited to build on the unique lens of our Hangar6 EDA pilot grant that has enabled dozens of NC companies access expert design assistance in fast-tracking their prototype designs, reducing cost and time while developing their prototypes. The new award will expand First Flight's commitment to provide early stage science-focused companies with additional critical resources on their path to commercialization.” 

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced, “Grantees were selected from a competitive pool of more than 600 applications and represent exemplary innovation and entrepreneurship from rural and urban areas across America,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.”

About First Flight Venture Center

First Flight Venture Center is a high-science, high-impact science- focused incubator located in the heart of Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 1991, First Flight has hosted more than 400 science-focused companies, providing strategic education, tailored resources, guidance, connections and office/lab space in a 25,000 sq.ft. facility. First Flight has launched businesses that have commercialized important new science breakthroughs and disruptive technologies, while creating thousands of jobs in North Carolina. For more information, visit or view First Flight video.

About Hangar6

“Serious tools for serious people” Hangar6 is the Research Triangle’s premier advanced prototyping and design assistance center. Hangar6 enables the designing and building of prototypes using advanced precision tools including 3D printers, C02 laser cutter, metal fiber laser, automated CNC mill, metal bending equipment, a woodshop and welding shop. Startups, entrepreneurs, corporations, and design/engineering firms join Hangar6 through a monthly/annual/team membership model. Website: Hangar6. View Hangar6 video.