At the recent launch of MassRobotics’ collaborative workspace, Tim Connelly, executive director/CEO of The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), announced that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will provide a grant of up to $75,000 for the purchase of industrial manufacturing robots that will be used as shared development platforms for the startups and innovators housed at MassRobotics. For those entrepreneurs focused on integrating robotics into the advanced manufacturing space, the investment in industrial and collaborative robots will help provide critical test beds for their emerging solutions.
“On behalf of the Baker-Polito administration, I am honored to announce this award to MassRobotics to help boost their mission of supporting robotics entrepreneurs and innovators,” said MassTech’s Tim Connelly. “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 R&D projects supported under the administration’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative.”
The robotics cluster is a fast-growing one in Massachusetts. MassTech completed a study on the Massachusetts Robotics Cluster in 2016 which identified 122 robotics companies in the Commonwealth; with 33 of those companies emerging in the last five years, the cluster increased by 31 percent. The report, authored by ABI Research, found that Massachusetts robotics firms employed more than 4,700 workers and generated more than $1.6 billion in revenue in 2015 alone. It also found that the market opportunity in key segments such as collaborative robotics is expected to grow into a billion-dollar market by 2020.
In January, the Baker-Polito administration announced that the Commonwealth would support the national public-private partnership known as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM). The Commonwealth will support ARM’s collaborative research and development work with $5 million in matching funds, helping leverage the $80 million in federal funds awarded to the national project and the additional matching funds from private sector participants. The ARM Institute will be led regionally by MassRobotics along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Northeastern University, UMass Lowell and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
The Commonwealth has also supported the development of robotics through a $5 million dollar award from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for critical R&D infrastructure that will help spur the testing and development of new marine robotics technologies such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, or AUVs.
“We are excited about the Commonwealth’s commitment to supporting the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing robots,” said Thomas Ryden, executive director, MassRobotics. “This grant will go a long way toward building out shared platforms and test-beds that allow start-ups to work with the latest industrial arms and collaborative robots.”
MassRobotics is an independent, non-profit hub serving to inspire and bring robotics startups, initiatives and investments to life. Its recently opened office, laboratory and test space is built to help young robotics companies develop and scale their concepts and prototypes. It includes private offices and shared workspace, 7,000 sq. ft. of open workshop and lab space, fully equipped with workbenches and power for robotics companies to rent on an as-needed basis. The space also has 2,000 sq. ft. of shared lab/prototyping space with a machine shop, 3D printers, electronics lab and robotic platforms like a dual-armed collaborative robot.