At the annual Boston Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Forum, Gov. Charlie Baker awarded a $2.5 million MassWorks grant to the City of Boston to help MassRobotics expand its operations. The MassWorks Infrastructure Program provides funding for municipalities and other eligible public entities to support and accelerate housing and job growth in the Commonwealth.
MassRobotics is an independent, nonprofit organization with a mission to create and grow the next generation of robotics and smart connected device companies in Massachusetts. It provides entrepreneurs and innovators the facilities and resources they need to develop, prototype, test, challenge and nurture early ideas.
MassRobotics opened 15,000 sq.ft. of shared workspace in Boston’s Marine Industrial Park in February 2017. Since then, it has grown to house more than 30 companies and organizations, including startups, mature robotics companies and university teams, with more than 70 people working in the space.
“Year one has been a tremendous success. MassRobotics is busting at the seams, with every office and lab bench taken. We provide a center of gravity to Boston’s robotics community, and are truly becoming the epicenter of robotics innovation. To support that growth, we need to expand, and we are excited about the cooperation and support from the City of Boston in this process,” said Tom Ryden, executive director, MassRobotics.
Since 2016, MassRobotics has built a growing network of partners, including Amazon Robotics, iRobot, Panasonic, Autodesk, Harmonic Drive, CIC, Vecna Technologies and GE. These partners play a key role in validating the corporate infrastructure needed to engage with more innovative robotics startups. In addition to providing the initial funding that enabled MassRobotics secure its current space and start operation, they also actively engage with resident startups by providing funding, technical and products support, and market access.
“The value of MassRobotics to Massachusetts and the industry is clear. I am grateful for our 25 founding and annual partners, and look forward to working with them and others in realizing MassRobotics’ phase II and expansion plan,” said Fady Saad, MassRobotics co-founder and director of partnerships. “This grant opens the door to more robust partnerships and sponsorship, and the space for robotics in Boston to grow.”
With the City of Boston’s support, MassRobotics will build-out up to 35,000 sq. ft. of additional space to include: private offices; open shared lab, prototyping and test space; a machine shop with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools to help make parts; electronics lab; and dedicated labs for advanced manufacturing robots and university-supported research. There will also be public event space and a dedicated STEM lab where students and others can learn about the latest technologies that will be impact and inspire them.
“Massachusetts is the global hub of robot technology development and innovation,” said Daniel Theobald, chief innovation officer at Vecna Technologies and MassRobotics visionary. “Robotics technology touches every industry, and we see amazing opportunity to grow the cluster. With this grant, MassRobotics can more than double their space, and support up to 80 companies and more than 250 employees. And those companies will grow, eventually find their own space, and become even greater contributors to the local economy.”