StartUp Worcester Success Story: Aaron Birt
Company: Solvus Global
Aaron Birt is proof that the next generation of high-tech manufacturing is coming out of Worcester.
In 2015, Aaron was part of StartUp Worcester’s very first cohort while completing his studies for a PhD in Material Science and Engineering at WPI. His first company, which was selected for StartUp Worcester, was a mobile app called EventTree designed to help students in Worcester find events near them.
Upon starting his doctoral studies, Birt left EventTree to focus on pioneering a new approach to additive manufacturing using machine learning control. He then founded Solvus Global in 2017 with his business partner and fellow WPI graduate Sean Kelly. He also founded a spinoff company, Kinetic Batteries, which soon after received a $40,000 grant to research innovations for lithium-ion batteries.
Solvus moved into an office space on Rockdale Street and then into lab space at Prescott Street in Worcester. With revenue and staff numbers quickly growing, Solvus was on the lookout for more space.
Solvus settled on purchasing a 32,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in 2021. A ribbon cutting was held in October 2021, featuring local leaders like Congressman Jim McGovern, State Senator John Cronin, Mayor Dean Mazzarella of Leominster, and several WPI administrators all congratulating Solvus and the work of its founders, Aaron and Sean. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative took the opportunity during the event to announce a $1.6 million grant from the state to help Solvus develop new additive manufacturing processes with the help of local students.
In just three years, Aaron had helped grow Solvus from $0 in annual revenue to $5 million.
Aaron and his companies have stayed local and pioneered new manufacturing techniques right here in Central Massachusetts. Solvus specializes in additive manufacturing using in-house AI software to develop computer-controlled cold spray manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is similar to 3D printing in that it adds to a product rather than subtracts, as cutting or sawing would. Cold spray additive manufacturing reduces the waste that is produced by traditional manufacturing by essentially spraying metal particles onto a surface using a cold stream of gas. The technology has significant implications for the defense industry, and the Army Research Lab has helped fund Solvus’s research.
In 2021, Aaron was named to the Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Before that, he was named to the 2018 class of Forbes 30 Under 30.