By David Sullivan, Director of Economic Development & Business Recruitment
From the November 2023 Edition of Chamber Exchange, The Newspaper

WORCESTER – Manufacturing has always been the backbone of the Central Massachusetts economy. Ever since the Blackstone River Valley and Worcester became the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the region has always played a role as an international leader in manufacturing innovation.

Solvus Global, a Worcester-based advanced manufacturer founded by WPI researchers Aaron Birt, Sean Kelly, and Diran Apelian continues that tradition today.

The company has pioneered additive manufacturing which is more widely known as 3D printing. Instead of using traditional manufacturing which subtracts parts to create the final product – think cutting, sawing – additive manufacturing adds material from the ‘bottom up’ to produce parts. It reduces waste and is more efficient and environmentally friendly.

One of Solvus’s methods of additive manufacturing is called “cold spray technology”, which involves using supersonic metal powders which stick to a target surface when sprayed on at high velocities. The method has significant applications for sectors such as defense, aerospace, biomedical, automotive, marine, clean energy, and oil and gas.

Solvus co-founder Aaron Birt is a graduate of WPI, receiving his PhD in materials science in 2017 and publishing papers about his innovative approach to additive manufacturing. Birt was also a participant in the Chamber’s StartUp Worcester entrepreneur program.

“Diran, Sean, and I all really enjoyed working together and solving problems,” said Birt. “So early on, we started out as a consulting gig. But we quickly found that we didn’t want to try and convince others to solve their problems; instead, we wanted to be the ones actually responsible for implementing solutions that could impact entire markets.”

Birt and fellow WPI PhD Sean Kelly and former WPI provost Dr. Diran Apelian founded Solvus Global in 2017, and since then the growth has been exponential. Birt was named to the 2018 class of Forbes 30 Under 30, and in 2022, Solvus was ranked as a top-300 company on the annual Inc. 5,000 list, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country. The company’s revenue exploded from zero to $5 million in just three years.

At the same time, Birt started a spinoff startup called Kinetic Batteries, which has received government contracts for researching how additive manufacturing can improve the efficiency of producing the lithium-ion batteries needed in electric vehicles.

In 2021, Solvus had outgrown its lab space in Worcester and needed a second location. The firm found a 32,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Leominster and received funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for their startup spinoff model, where Solvus invests resources into new in-house startups like Powders on Demand (, Kinetic Batteries ( or VALIS (, an AI-powered solution to inefficiencies in the recycling industry who recently closed their seed-series investment.

“Pivoting to more of a venture studio business model at Solvus Global came as a realization from our team that we wanted to solve bigger and bigger problems and we wanted to be the ones who were responsible for delivering the solution,” said Birt. “We wanted to focus on a combination of not only the technology, but also the business and the team of people behind it.”

Solvus has created a name for itself as a leader in advanced manufacturing not just in the region, but worldwide. And they bring the industry to Worcester every year. Solvus hosts two concurrent conferences, called the Cold Spray Action Team (CSAT, and Large Scale Additive Action Team (LSAAT,, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Researchers and additive manufacturers from more than 10 countries attend to discuss and demonstrate innovations in additive manufacturing. Because of Solvus, Worcester has become a hub for the international exchange of ideas in advanced and additive manufacturing.

Solvus Global truly lives up to the “Global” in its name. They are focused on fostering a strong local ecosystem for advanced manufacturing, while working with international organizations and companies to improve the overall sustainability of manufacturing worldwide.

“Assembling a team of over 75 employees composed of local talent right here in Central Massachusetts coupled with folks from around the country has been an achievement in itself,” noted Birt. “Surviving and even thriving through COVID-19 wasn’t easy, but as we look to the next chapter of growth for Solvus and its model, we’re incredibly excited to continue partnering with our collaborators in industry, academia, and government to focus on helping people, innovating technology, and supporting growth of our communities to impact the world around us for the better.”