The Commonwealth of Massachusetts gave a $75,000 grant to a company that encourages robotics startups, at the opening of the company’s collaborative workspace on Feb. 28.
MassRobotics is a team of engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs that advises startups that focus on building robots and autonomous platforms. MassRobotics will use the grant for the purchase of industrial manufacturing robots that will be shared by the startups that use the company’s collaborative workspace.
“MassRobotics will help grow the commonwealth’s stature as a global leader in robotics innovation, both through the launch of this facility, and through the national robotics [research and development] projects supported under the administration’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative,” said Tim Connelly, executive director and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech).
The founders of MassRobotics noticed that there was a lack of space for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas outside of a university setting. MassRobotics offers prototyping facilities for robots and autonomous systems, promotes cost efficiency by sharing services, works through roadblocks that startups face, and provides acquisition opportunities and technology licensing.
The office, which opened at the beginning of this year, includes 7,000 square feet of workshop space and a 2,000-square-foot machine shop for prototyping. MassRobotics hopes to raise $5 million to open another 25,000-square-foot space available in the building.
“MassRobotics gives you that opportunity to build,” said Tye Brady, chief technologist for Amazon Robotics and one of the founders of MassRobotics. “It surrounds you with community. It surrounds you with people that know technology. It surrounds you with people that can help you generate that idea through to the next great business.”
There are 122 robotics companies in Massachusetts, and the robotics industry in the state generated $1.6 billion in revenue in 2015, according to a study from MassTech.
“We are excited about the commonwealth’s commitment to supporting the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing robots,” said Thomas Ryden, executive director of MassRobotics. “This grant will go a long way toward building out shared platforms and test-beds that allow startups to work with the latest industrial arms and collaborative robots.”
One robot that was developed by MassRobotics is built to look similar in shape to a human, which can walk, talk, and interact with people. Startups are working to add to this robot’s capabilities.
“There are a number of startups that are developing personalized applications for these,” Ryden said on Cheddar. “So think of maybe eldercare, having the robot stay current with ideas and technology and can communicate that to the elderly.”
Another idea is to program the robot to help pediatricians by playing with children to distract them while the children get vaccines, according to Ryden.