Innovation First acquires Vex from Radio Shack

IFI sent this press release for us to post.


GREENVILLE, Texas (April 17, 2006) – Innovation First, a leading provider of robotics products for the consumer and education markets, today announced it’s acquisition of the Vex® Robotics Design System brand name and trademark registrations from RadioShack Corporation. Innovation First, developer and licensor of the technology powering Vex, partnered with RadioShack in 2005 to develop the award-winning product platform.

“Gaining ownership of the Vex Robotics brand positions Innovation First to take the product platform to the next level,” said Tony Norman, president and CEO of Innovation First. “We plan to stock the full line of Vex products and accessories and will seek additional distribution partners to fully serve the consumer and education markets in the US and abroad. We’ll also be stepping up efforts to drive innovation into the product assortment and will offer even more unique parts through the website.”

The Vex Robotics Design System includes a starter kit with over 500 individual parts and offers more than twenty accessory products including an autonomous programming kit, distance sensors, line following sensors and tank treads. Winner of the Best of Innovation award at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show, Vex promotes creativity and allows builders to design an infinite variety of robots to solve any task. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), creator of the nation’s leading robotics competitions for students, is utilizing Vex to pilot a new level of competition called the FIRST Vex Challenge which culminates in a national championship later this month at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. More information is available at

“Teachers are looking for easier, fun ways to deliver practical lessons in math, physics and computer programming,” said Joel Carter, vice president of marketing for Innovation First. To this end, educational curriculum mapping to national standards has been developed for the Vex platform by intelitek and Carnegie Mellon University. “Ironically, the US is facing a shortage of qualified applicants for high-paying technical jobs. Vex is a low cost way for schools to introduce kids to these vocations through hands-on courses in robotics.”

To learn more about the award-winning Vex Robotics Design System, please visit or call 903-453-0801.

About Innovation First
Innovation First incorporated in 1996 and is a privately held S corporation. Co-owners Tony Norman and Bob Mimlitch founded the company on the belief that innovation very early in the design process is necessary to produce simple and elegant product designs. Innovation First began producing electronics for unmanned mobile ground robots, and is an industry leader in the hobby, competition and education markets. The RackSolutions division was formed in 1999 with the goal of becoming the “Rack Mount Problem Solvers.” RackSolutions works closely with all major computer OEMs to provide custom mounting solutions and industry-wide rack compatibility for data installations of all sizes.

Joel Carter
Innovation First, Incorporated
(903) 453-0880
[email protected]

Not too surprising considering that RadioShack dropped the ball on this one, but still surprising that IFI picked up the ball afterwards! Very nice!

Lets hope we see VEX in more stores now…

Not a surprising move, but definately a welcomed one. My biggest fear when i heard radioshack was getting doubts about Vex was that it would cease to exist. Vex is definately an innovative and amazing resource, tool, and toy! I hope that IFI keeps up the great work and keeps inspiring us with their Vex products.

happy to see someone is there to pick the Vex up after radioshack dropped the ball. hoping it still in stores, but if not can always get it off there site :smiley:

Wow. I didn’t realize IFI would have the capital to buy the rights. Good for them though; it really expands their company a great deal in the general consumer sector.

Nice. Very, very nice. Having participated in FVC Game Design, I had the distinct pleasure of spending a little time with Tony Norman and even more with JVN in the past nine months or so. The amount of effort, care, and thoughtfulness Innovation First has put into this platform and program is nothing short of immense, dating all the way back to the “Edu-Bot”. The way I see it, even though a large distributor in Radio Shack is lost, the real vision and passion behind the product now has the control and power to really help VEX grow in meaningful and lasting ways. The distribution hurdle is a very temporary thing. Congratulations to Innovation First. I look forward to the future with great anticipation.

It’s all great news to hear, but the broke college students and others around the world want to know one thing. Will the pricing go down/up?

I, too, am glad to see IFI pick this one up. They did great with the Edubot, then came the Vex line, which was a great improvement in both cost and user-friendliness. (After all, when everyone has the same controller, life gets so much easier…and besides, the Mini RC alone is $250. Fifty bucks more for a radio and a bunch of hardware is a steal.)

I can’t wait to see what all those crazy Texans will do next–but whatever it is, I bet it’ll be awesome.

Seeing as how the state of things were with VEX and Radioshack, I think this is one of the best outcomes of the whole situation. I am curious to know how much the prices will fluctuate, if at all, but regardless I’m glad there will still be a supplier after Radioshack sells out their stock of VEX stuff.

i am very happy that the vex line is not going to disappear. this will help out my grandfather’s/friend’s robotics class at their school, now that they have a reliable dealer for parts.

I am relieved to see IFI taking the VEX up because VEX is an unique concept and cool idea, but we all know that products from RadioShack is not so great in quality. Therefore IFI is a small corporation that shows that the quality is superior, therefore the Vex BY IFI will be greatly improved. Price is not a concern if your sponsors can support you. This is another great news for everyone in FIRST community. Hope all goes well by IFI. crosses fingers


GREENVILLE, Texas (April 17, 2006) – Innovation First, a leading provider of robotics products for the consumer and education markets, today announced it’s acquisition of the Vex® Robotics Design System brand name and trademark registrations from RadioShack Corporation. Innovation First, developer and licensor of the technology powering Vex, partnered with RadioShack in 2005 to develop the award-winning product platform.

“Gaining ownership of the Vex Robotics brand …
RadioShack sold the VEX brand. IFI already owned the design/technology, which they developed. I guess if IFI had wanted to sell the same stuff under a new name, they might have avoided paying RS for the brand? Anyway, I hope the right to call the stuff “VEX” instead of something else didn’t cost IFI too much.

There are probably many customers (e.g., my team) who will be very glad that these kits are going to be available from IFI. I’d buy one regardless of how they were branded.

It’d be nice if IFI started selling Vex controllers by themselves too… (goes back to scheming)

Way ahead of you!

Yeah! :smiley:

(just to put this out there, IFI does not have the Vex name now, Innovation First does. IFI is the supplier of FRC which is owned by Innovation First. The Vex name belongs to Innovation First and Vex Labs.)

Well, im glad that vex no longer belongs to radio shack…maybe now ill buy a vex kit :slight_smile:

OMG, having the ability to buy every single piece in the Vex kits a la carte is awesome! Now, if you want to get an “autonomous-only” Vex kit, or if you are an educator and want to stock up on a lot of controllers, this is amazing! If this is any sign of future things to come, I think Vex has an amazing future ahead. Congrats IFI!

And in the ultimate sign of irony for RadioShack, I think the Vex product line will finally take off now.

does this mean we will see more amazing vex robots by IFI?

Let me try to answer a few questions. If I miss anything, feel free to post; we will try to get everything answered as quickly as possible. We are happy to share this good news with the FIRST community.

The current pricing listed on will not change in the near future (i.e. $299 for a starter kit).

All Vex product will be available through web sales.
Those items that are currently out-of-stock will become available ASAP.

As mentioned in the above announcement, other options of distribution are being considered. No matter what, you can count on to remain a source of Vex products.

With this announcement comes the green-light to start development on the MANY new ideas we have for the future of Vex. I don’t know exactly what is coming, but I’m excited about the potential. (Yes, hopefully they’ll let me spend some time on new super-robots).

Web Presence:
Some have noticed that is now a link to a product page. This will change in the future; the entire web layout for Vex is going to be revamped. We now own the URL, and intend to expand ASAP. There is a lot of potential there, and we intend to include as much as possible. (Open community forums, advanced tech support, published designs, revamped, all are ideas on the table.)

Personally, I think this is great news. I’m glad we’ve gotten the chance to share it with all of you. I think this is an exciting time for the Vex program, and we’ll hopefully see a very bright future.


I am very happy that Vexlabs continues to sell Vex Robotics products.