In 2017, MassRobotics moved from concept to reality, opening 15,000 sq. ft. of shared workspace, welcoming the growing world of robotics, and bringing robotics to life. That was just the beginning.
Part 1 of an interview with Joyce Sidopoulos, Co-founder and Director, Community and Programs for MassRobotics.
How did MassRobotics get started?
In 2014, a group of like-minded individuals shared a vision to create an innovation hub and startup cluster focused on the needs of the robotics community – not just a place to collaborate, but a place to build, prototype, test…and have fun. But we knew we needed funding and leadership to get started, as well as community support. We were fortunate to find a set of founding sponsors (I call them “the believers”), and an Executive Director, Tom Ryden.
We did our homework – surveys, focus groups – to determine where start-ups wanted to be. Boston has the luxury of being home to amazing educational institutions, and a wealth of talent, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, so it seemed natural. But finding space was difficult. We needed offices, but also industrial space for labs, space that we could get messy. That’s where community support came in. After several meetings with city officials we were offered space in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District, in the Marine Industrial Park – a hotbed of growth and development, and a perfect fit.
What has the past year been like?
Amazing and super busy. Once the word got out and people began to understand what MassRobotics had to offer, there was a steady stream of start-ups. Within a year we were nearly at capacity, housing more than 30 companies/organizations, including startups, mature robotics companies and university teams, and more than 70 people working in the space. Last month we received a MassWorks grant to more than double our workspace, so we are pretty excited about what the future might hold.
What are your goals for the future?
Our mission is simple. We want to help make the next generation of robotics and connected device companies successful by providing them with the resources they need to develop, test, and commercialize their products. We’re not really an incubator or accelerator. Our startups are at many different stages of fundraising, development and company growth, so we treat each startup as a special case and facilitate introductions to potential investors, manufacturers, partners and customers. What we’re forming here is the epi-center of the world for robotics. I see this area as a destination for anything robotic!
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