City of Cleveland hopes Think Box will bring Amazon here, but what is it?

Posted at 5:00 PM, Oct 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-26 10:38:20-04

It's the largest of its kind in the country, and the team trying to bring Amazon's second headquarters to Cleveland hopes it helps them seal the deal.

The Think Box on the campus of Case Western Reserve University was prominently featured in the video just submitted to the retail giant.

3-D and laser printers are just some of the high-tech equipment tucked inside a nondescript building on the campus of Case Western. The facility, which is open to the public, is where ideas come to life.

Alexander Lonsberry's Path Robotics is just one of the dozens of start-ups to turn to the Think Box.

"I don't think most cities have this type of facility. It's kind of a rarity, and it's very special to have it," said Lonsberry.

Lonsberry's new company is focusing on building a robot that can weld on its own.

"Really any robots out there used currently are not very smart," said Lonsberry.

That's because someone needs to tell the machine what to do.

"What we're doing is adding a bit of artificial intelligence to the system," said Lonsberry.

Lonsberry and his team are using this facility to build two prototypes.

"So the user interaction will become putting something in front of the robot and then walking away. As simple as that," said Lonsberry.

So far, Think Box has helped more than 100 start-ups get off the ground.

"The greatest garage in the world, you know? Millions of dollars worth of tools, that's fun," said Marshall Nill with the Think Box.

The State of Ohio recently threw its support behind the maker space, cutting a $1 million dollar check.

"They saw the economic impact a space like this has outside of just Case Western, it's much bigger than that," said Nill.

Access to the incubator space and machines is completely free and available for Case Western students as well as the public.

"Every time someone comes in here they're like what's the catch? There is no catch. We don't take like any part of your idea, we don't come back and say you owe us a bunch of money because we helped you," said Nill.

It's the kind of collaboration and innovation that some hope will catch the attention of Amazon.

"We have a special group of people here in Cleveland and we don't want to sit around, we want to do something," said Lonsberry.

The Think Box receives more than 5,000 visits each month, making it the third most popular place on campus behind the Athletics Center and library.