BOSTON—Robotics clusters worldwide have grown, thanks to a combination of academic research, government funding, innovative startups, risk-taking entrepreneurs, and industrial mentors and customers. At an event at its headquarters here last night, MassRobotics expressed gratitude and celebrated numerous accomplishments at its fifth annual partner event.
“We started this with our 11 founding partners,” recalled Fady Saad, vice president of strategic partnerships at MassRobotics. “In 2021, we added 15 new resident members, for a total of 62.”
MassRobotics provides support for startups and the Massachusetts robotics community through shared workspace in Boston's Seaport District, events, business services, and investor introductions. The organization said it is the collective effort of engineers, rocket scientists, and entrepreneurs.
“We're already running out of space in our new facility, and we're looking for more space,” said Tom Ryden, executive director of MassRobotics. Ryden personally thanked Jay Ash, former Massachusetts secretary for housing and economic development, for the commonwealth's initial investment of 2.5 million in MassRobotics.
Ash is now CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), which consists of the CEOs of the top 18 employers in the state and focuses on economic competitiveness, educating the workforce, social justice, and innovation and entrepreneurship.
“People ask me what our state is doing that's different,” he said. “I've worked with Gov. Charlie Baker, who once said, 'The secret of Massachusetts' success story is to begin with educational excellence—MIT and Harvard—and wait 200 years.' Innovation and enrepreneurship are part of our DNA and have helped us get through many an economic cycle.”
With more than 350 robotics and related technology companies in the region, the Massachusetts robotics hub is one of the biggest in the world. Local companies range from best-in-class component makers and software developers to suppliers of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), collaborative robots, and surgical systems.
“When I worked with Gov. Baker, we focused on the importance of public-private partnerships,” said Ash. “We got a lot of crazy requests for funding, but not only did Tom have a passion for such partnerships and the local robotics community, but he also anticipated all my questions.”
“Gov. Baker and I learned a new word together—convergence,” he said. “Massachusetts' economy is strong because of the convergence of a lot of people with great ideas. I congratulate you for your success in doing it here.”
For the first time, MassRobotics recognized its “most engaged partners” with awards. Cowen received one for its startup education, Festo for its work in life sciences and healthcare, and Mitsubishi Electric for its support of the Healthcare Robotics Startup Catalyst and Robo Boston.
Mitsubishi Electric receives Most Engaged Partner award. Source: MassRobotics
At the AMR and Logistics Conference held by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) in Memphis in October, the working group conducted the first demonstration of a standard for communications among mobile robots. The group plans to address batteries and power management next, Saad noted.
He added that MassRobotics will address climate change and robotics in the coming year. “We have a lot of smart people and technologies, and we have a responsibility to sustainability,” said Saad. “Our ultimate vision is to make MassRobotics a hub for robotics startups worldwide.”
“Diversity is another issue that's near and dear to my heart,” he told Robotics 24/7.
For 2022, the organization intends to continue its events, and it will publish a five-year impact report next month.
As more factories and warehouses add mobile robots to keep up with e-commerce demand and compensate for staffing turnover and shortages, new challenges have arisen. What happens when robots from different vendors are on the same floor at the same time?
About the Author
Eugene DemaitreEugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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Tom Ryden addresses the MassRobotics Partners Celebration.
MassRobotics is a nonprofit robotics innovation hub, whose mission is to help create and scale the next generation of successful robotics technology and connected devices companies by providing innovative entrepreneurs and startups with the workspace and resources they need to develop, prototype, test and commercialize their products...