Innovation Economy

123 stories
Tipping point
Kendall Square passes from tech center to biotech center
Shannon Pendergrast of Ymir Genomics isolates exosomes from biofluids at LabCentral in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
The three-story brick building at the corner of Main and Osborn streets in Cambridge, on the edge of Kendall Square and the MIT campus, captures three distinct eras in the city’s innovation history. In the early 1800s, it was the site of Kimball & Davenport, the first builder of passenger railroad cars in America. Read More
The virtual view from Hollywood
A report from Oculus' first conference for virtual reality software developers
Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey at the Oculus Connect event last month. Photo courtesy of IrisVR.
The virtual reality headset maker Oculus — now owned by Facebook — held its first conference for software developers last month. I bumped into Shane Scranton, a Vermont entrepreneur, the day before he flew out to Hollywood for the conclave, and asked him to share his impressions afterward. Scranton's startup, IrisVR, has been pitching investors and architecture firms on software that can take three-dimensional models of buildings and "translate" them easily and quickly for viewing on the Oculus goggles. It's an amazing experience: you can walk through and look around spaces that haven't yet been built. Read More
Seeking robo-supremacy
Robot makers and tech trade group hope to create new workspace for robotics ventures
Vgo Communications makes a videoconferencing robot that is used by Audi at some of its service locations.
Robotics entrepreneurs may soon have their own special place for bot-building. A group of robotics companies, research-and-development labs, and the tech industry trade group Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council are working to create a shared workspace for fledgling robotics ventures, dubbed Mass Robotics. Plans could be announced as soon as mid-October. The space may be located at Alewife on the far fringe of Cambridge, but that's still up in the air, as is a target opening date. Read More
Special space for Crimson startups
First look: Harvard's new Launch Lab, a home for alumni startups
Harvard-affiliated startups began moving into the university's new Launch Lab this month.
Just three years after Harvard University opened its Innovation Lab, a space for students to develop startup ideas, there's a new annex for alumni businesses located right across the street. The Launch Lab is intended to support not only recent grads who may be growing companies they started when they were students, but also alumni several years out who are working on new ventures. Both the Launch Lab and the Innovation Lab are in the former WGBH television complex on Western Avenue in Allston. I stopped by earlier this month to have a look... Read More
Make it in Mass.?
Can manufacturing in Massachusetts go viral?
Eric Hold works on the electrical boards of a mass spectrometer at 908 Devices in South Boston. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

“What we need are manufacturing jobs, not stupid social apps.”

That was a comment appended to a column I wrote in August about two app start-ups in Boston, and I thought it raised a good question: Who is creating those new manufacturing jobs? If you want to weld, rivet, or stamp for a living, rather than code and upload, where will you work?

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Upgrading the conference call
Boston-based Talko, led by Ray Ozzie, unveils new communication app
Talko founders Matt Pope, Eric Patey, and Ray Ozzie, in the startup's North End office.
Just a few blocks away from where Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, entrepreneur Ray Ozzie and a small team have been reimagining telephone calls for the 21st century. And today, they're debuting a new iPhone app called Talko that seeks to nudge the phone out of the "just dial a number and hold it to your ear" era and into the 21st century. Read More
Rethinking online shopping, in the old Sears building
First look: Launch, new Boston incubator for e-commerce ventures
Ben Fischman, founder of the Launch incubator for e-commerce startups.
What better place to cook up new e-commerce companies than the tower of an old Sears & Roebuck distribution center? That's where Ben Fischman, the founder of Lids and Rue La La, has found space for his new e-commerce incubator, dubbed Launch. There's no website yet, and the team is still small, but I dropped in last week for a visit. Read More
A tale of two crowdfunding ventures
A Weston startup ran a “crowdfunding” campaign this summer to raise money to begin production of a tabletop robot, Jibo, that interacts with people, helping to manage schedules or initiate videoconferences.
In the middle of July, two local entrepreneurs launched “crowdfunding” campaigns two days apart. They were seeking enough preorders from customers to help them start making new products. One was a sleek aluminum iPad stand called the SlingAmp, priced at about $35. The other was Jibo, a $600 robot that will be able to do things like coordinate family schedules and read bedtime stories. Read More
Things change
Shake-up at LogMeIn's Xively division, focused on the 'Internet of Things'
(Globe photo / Essdras M. Suarez)
Several top execs focused on launching new services to support the "Internet of Things" — sometimes called machine-to-machine communication, or M2M — have left Boston-based LogMeIn in recent months. And LogMeIn is closing the London office of what had been Pachube, a startup it acquired in 2011. But a LogMeIn spokesperson tells me that the publicly-traded company is not shutting down Xively, its division that offers cloud-based software and services to help companies create and manage their own Internet of Things projects, like tracking the maintenance needs of factory equipment, or monitoring a fleet of trucks. Read More
How many bottles of beer on the wall?
BevSpot banks $720,000 to help bars and restaurants better manage their booze
BevSpot co-founders Chidubem Ezekea, Alex Lesman, and Rory Crawford, outside the Harvard Innovation Lab.
2014 has been a pretty action-packed year thus far for BevSpot: founded in March by Harvard Business School and MIT students...raised $20,000 in early funding shortly after by the student-run Dorm Room Fund...product launch in August...and now, a $700,000 seed funding round. Read More
Back in Boston
Recommendation startup Nara Logics adds Jana Eggers as president
Nara CTO Nathan Wilson, President Jana Eggers, and CEO Tom Copeman.
Tech exec Jana Eggers is returning to Boston after a three-year stint in South Carolina. Eggers, a former senior executive at Lycos, Intuit, and Spreadshirt, joined Cambridge-based Nara Logics this week as president. The personalization and recommendation startup has raised $7 million from investors since its founding in 2010. Read More