MassRobotics Opens Boston Startups Space

In the News
February 17, 2017

Silicon Valley might be the best known regional hub for innovation and high-tech, but it has no shortage of competition in the U.S. or worldwide.

Boston startups now have another reason to consider staying in Massachusetts, which counts MIT and more than 150 robotics companies among its residents.

Nonprofit MassRobotics, which initially considered space in Cambridge, Mass., and elsewhere, today officially opened its Shared Robotics Innovation Space in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District. The fifth floor of a renovated industrial building includes six offices and “hot desks on demand,” plus shared laboratories, meeting rooms, and a kitchen.

In addition to 8-ft. rented lab benches and shared electronics equipment, there is also a machine shop that can be reserved. It will include CNC, a lathe, a laser cutter, and 3D printers, as well as specialist support from sponsors for training and safety.

“The building, which can host everything from drones to self-driving cars, is a perfect location to help build the premier hub of robotics development in the country,” said Thomas Ryden, founder of VGo Communications Inc. (now owned by Vecna Technologies Inc.) and executive director of MassRobotics.

“We also have a full loading dock and elevators that have 12,000-lb. capacity,” he said.

Boston startups start to move in

The tenants of the MassRobotics co-working space so far include a diverse range of organizations, some of which are just emerging from “stealth mode.”

American Robotics Inc.

American Robotics has been working on cloud-connected drones for precision agriculture. It was founded by alumni from Carnegie Mellon and Stanford universities and is working to combine autonomous data collection and analytics.

Chief Technology Officer Vijay Somandepalli noted that gathering and acting on the data from mobile sensors in real time is one expression of the industrial Internet of Things also emerging in factories and warehouses. American Robotics is looking for partners as it begins testing its products, and it’s also watching the European agricultural market, which has been more open to automation than the U.S. one.

Brain Robotics Capital

Brain Robotics Capital is a managing partner of MassRobotics and has another office in the same building. It is starting a new venture fund for robotics, artificial intelligence, and big data.

In addition, the firm has worked with social robot maker Jibo Inc. and its Chinese partner.

Hurdler Motors Inc.

Hurdler Motors was among the first Boston startups to set up shop in the new space, according to President Michael Goren. He moved from Schenectady, N.Y., and is working on personal mobility and electric vehicles.

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