The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) has launched a new initiative to boost the robotics sector across the state, an effort funded through $5 million in investment. The new department, established within the Innovation Institute at MassTech, will help develop a comprehensive statewide cluster development effort for robotics that will focus on expansion of R&D, testing, commercialization, and workforce development throughout the state.
The Department of Robotics will be led by new director, Peter Haas. He comes to MassTech from restaurant robotics company Avendly, where Hass most recently served as CEO. Prior to his startup work, Haas served as the research director for computer vision AI software at IDC and the associate director of Brown University’s Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. He has spoken at The Economist’s World Ahead Gala and DHL Robotics Days, and he was on the qualifying teams for both the AI and robotic Avatar X-PRIZE competitions.
“The robotics cluster in Massachusetts is leading the way among robotics clusters across the nation. It is a powerhouse in warehouse and logistics robotics, and has a density of unique academic programs that is unparalleled, leading the United States in per capita robotics patents,” Haas said. “If you want to design or build robots, few places can match the talent pool the exists in the Bay State. This funding gives MassTech the opportunity to build on an amazing foundation to make Massachusetts a renowned global destination for robotics innovation.”
Three areas of interest in new MassTech initiative
The new Robotics Department will design programs to address three key focus areas:
- Ecosystem Development: Programs to strengthen connections between robotics ecosystem stakeholders to grow and further shape Massachusetts’ profile as a global leader in robotics.
- Technology Commercialization: Aim to provide startup support services, access to resources and expert mentorship to early-stage robotics companies.
- Workforce Development: Efforts to address industry’s need for middle-skill workers trained to work with robotic systems and expand access to careers in robotics, particularly for populations that have faced underrepresentation in the tech and innovation economy.
“This new robotics department will help Massachusetts craft an innovative wave of robotics technologies that will solidify our global leadership in this field,” said Mass. Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. “We are committed to equipping our students and workforce with the proper tools to envision future advancements as they create autonomous products that will play a pivotal role in shaping the industry’s future. Peter Haas has the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure that we stay ahead of the competition.”
MassTech & MassRobotics partnership expands
The first program funded under the initiative is the new accelerator program launched in early November 2023 by Boston-based MassRobotics. The inaugural MassRobotics Accelerator powered by MassTech will support 10 robotics companies by providing “programming, individual mentorship, and immersion in the world-class robotics network” that exists across the state, including the robotics and autonomy startups housed at MassRobotics’ headquarters in Boston’s Seaport district.
The first accelerator cohort, which will be announced in early 2024, will participate in a 13-week program that will provide direct mentorship, access to technology and business resources in the region, and an investment of $100,000 in non-dilutive funding to boost their innovations.
“The funding for a robotics department within Mass Tech Collaborative will be impactful to the growing robotics industry here within the Commonwealth,” said Thomas Ryden, executive director of MassRobotics. “The department will be in a unique position to highlight the wide range of efforts and resources Massachusetts has to make it the premier place to start and grow robotics and automation companies.”
“I'm really excited to hear about MassRobotics' new non-dilutive accelerator program funded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative,” said Peter Howard, CEO of Realtime Robotics. “Both MassRobotics and the Collaborative have incredibly experienced and insightful robotics entrepreneurs, capable of both choosing great technologies, and nurturing great teams.”
The newly launched robotics initiative builds upon MassTech’s support and investment in the state’s robotics sector over the last decade-plus, including over $28 million in awards to advance Mass.’ robotics sector. Previous investments include a multi-year commitment to MassRobotics’ Jumpstart Fellowship program, which provides training opportunities for diverse high school girls to gain a foothold in the robotics industry, as well as larger investments in robotics testbeds statewide.
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