Sandwiched between rows of warehouses in the South Boston Waterfront, MassRobotics serves as both an incubator and import hub for the city’s vibrant robotics community. Soon, it will add accelerator to that list. This morning the nonprofit announced the forthcoming arrival of its simply named MassRobotics Accelerator.
Applications are now open for the 13-week program, which focuses on early-stage robotics startups — particularly those operating in hardware, components and applications. Companies accepted into the incubator will received $100,000 in non-dilutive funding. The funding comes by way of MassTech, an organization developed to foster technology in the state.
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Ten companies will be included in the round. MassRobotics points out that that it won’t be getting an equity stake in the companies. “We feel it’s the first equity-free robotics accelerator in the U.S.,” the accelerator’s director, Marita McGinn, tells TechCrunch.
Teams will have access to MassRobotics’ facilities, which include tools like CNC machines, laser and waterjet cutters and 3D printers for hardware prototyping. The site also features Industrial Automation and Human Robot Interaction (HRI) labs, and a slew of different robotic hardware platforms. Human mentors will also be available, for both the technical and business sides.
The application process “soft launched” October 16. It closes at the end of November. The four-month program kicks off February 5, culminating in a May 2 demo day, held as part of Boston’s Robotics Summit & Expo.
McGinn says there’s a “strong preference” for companies already based in Massachusetts, but the program doesn’t have any sort of quota to that effect.
“We’re really looking for the most interesting companies,” she says. “One of the things we really worked on with MassTech is how to attract companies to come to Massachusetts. In the end, I think it will be a nice collection of Mass-based companies and maybe companies from other parts of the country or international. Companies that are out of state need to have some sort of commitment to Massachusetts, one year post-accelerator.”
McGinn adds that diversity — something too often lacking in the industry — will also be a focal point for applications. “We will absolutely make sure that it looks and feels diverse from every standpoint.”