Happy New Year!

2022 Recap: A letter from our Executive Director

As 2022 draws to a close we have an opportunity to reflect on the year behind us and to consider the year ahead. It’s been a year of action in robotics. Even through a turbulent year, industrial robot sales are up 20% from 2021 and investments in robotics remain hot.  While below the 2021 record of $17B, more than $10B will flow to startups in 2022.

Locus Robotics’ achievement of a double unicorn status with its recent raise shows the appetite for flexible robotic automation solutions.  This year we saw the number of VC firms looking at robotics increase. The formation of new robotics focused VCs like Cybernetix Ventures, by former MassRobotics VP of Strategic Partnerships Fady Saad, and Ally Robotics Ventures is a great development and Amazon’s announcement in April that it was creating a new $1 billion Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund will bring additional investments to the field.

It has also been a year of growth for MassRobotics. Startups from around the world continue to find us. Residents have joined from Singapore, Germany, Australia, Israel, and other countries. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve added 22 new residents – that’s nearly two per month.

As we’ve grown, we’ve had to add another row to our resident wall!!

From our Signature Series events on robotics in different industry verticals, to our public-facing event, RoboBoston – the biggest robotics showcase event of its kind – we continued to engage with the larger community. Our working groups, driven by industry challenges and supported by our partners, were busy. Our Robotics Healthcare Working Group’s steering committee kicked off its 2nd Catalyst Program. Initially led by FESTO, the group has now grown to include partners Mitsubishi Electric, Novanta and MITRE and has doubled the number of startups it supports. It’s found great success in a growing community of hospitals, VCs, universities, government, and other organizations that are coming together under their direction. Standards efforts within the AMR working group continued to move forward with collaborations with A3 and ASTM as well as progress on Release 2.0 of the Interoperability Standard.

We kicked off the AWS Robotics Startup Accelerator program and scouted the world over to draft the best robotics startups that were working with cloud computing to participate in a four-week mentorship and keynote program. We ran this program twice this year engaging with 40 startups from most continents.  

Our STEM programs continue to grow. A three-year Cummings Foundation grant and donations from many supporters allowed us to secure a dedicated STEM lab! Our popular girls high school Jumpstart Program, founded by GreenSight and MassRobotics and supported by La Fondation at Dassault Systems, MassTech Collaborative, Toyota Research Insititue, and many volunteers, is kicking off its 3rd year.  Our Drone Academy has been held for 4 summers now and is currently working towards commercializing the STEM kit – thanks to the support of Amazon Robotics and development from Brown University.

So what will 2023 bring us?  With talk of a recession in the 2nd/3rd quarter, we are not sure the industry will experience the same acceleration as in 2022. We do know MassRobotics will be busy with networking events and educational seminars (with more than 100 planned events already on our calendar for the year) including a new series focusing on discussions on the crossed lines between robotics and design, co-created with Onshape.

We are very excited to be launching our Form and Function challenge in January, with the help of multiple partners including Lattice Semiconductor, Onshape, Nano Dimension, FESTO, Novanta, Danfoss and Analog Devices. We hope to run this challenge annually, snowballing it into a milestone in the academic year for future roboticist in universities across the world.

Whatever 2023 brings us, I want to thank you for your continued interest in and support of MassRobotics. We believe robotics has the power to strengthen every industry across the globe and make significant contributions to making the world a more sustainable and better place. We are excited to continue to champion robotics and we can’t wait to see you in the new year!