CE Manufacturing Specialist PCH International Launches Its Hardware Incubator, Highway1

Electronics manufacturing specialist PCH International is looking to find new clients just as they start. To do so, it’s creating an incubator called Highway1 that will help young hardware startups build new products.

PCH International is run by Irishman Liam Casey who has been dubbed “Mr. China” by some. The company is best known for sourcing, manufacturing and distributing goods for some of the biggest consumer electronics companies out there.

With Highway1, PCH International will have early access to some of the most promising hardware startups as they’re building their businesses. When it comes time for them to start mass-producing and shipping products, the company will be right there to help them.

Heading up the incubator will be Brady Forrest, advisor to startups and former member of Khosla Ventures. Forrest joined earlier this year to start the program, which will run for four months and is expected to have two classes a year.

PCH will choose about 10 startups per class to participate in the program. According to Forrest, they’re looking for participants who want to build a company, not just a single product. With that in mind, the selection process will run through its engineering team to determine technical capability, as well as retail partners to asses the viability of products the startups are looking to build.

The incubator will be focused on educating startups about supply chain, inventory management, and actual manufacturing. That will help those startups go from the prototype stage to a company that can build and deliver products on a global scale. Participating startups will get $20,000 in seed capital in exchange for 3-6 percent of equity, as well as access to one-on-one engineering and design expertise and access to mentors.

They will reside in PCH’s new U.S. headquarters in San Francisco¬†where participating startups will have space next to the folks at Lime Lab, the design firm that PCH acquired last year. In addition to the curriculum in San Francisco, the incubator will also spend two weeks in Shenzhen to check out the local supply chain there.

There’s an emerging class of hardware-based startup accelerators emerging, which include Lemnos Labs, Haxlr8r, and Bolt. Highway1 is trying to differentiate itself in part with its location: Being in San Francisco puts participating startups close to where tech talent is. Meanwhile, PCH still has strong ties to the supply chain and hardware ecosystem in China.

For startups that might be interested, Highway1 is taking applications for its inaugural class now. The program will begin in October and go about four months, with a demo day early next year.