State energy officials today announced $530,000 in grants for four small business incubators, part of an ongoing strategy to accelerate the development of cleantech startup companies in Massachusetts.
The funding, under the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) IncubateMass program, will support the day-to-day operations of these incubators. Incubators offer a shared working space, mentorship and resources for startup companies, which would not be able to independently pay for office space, specialized equipment, human resources, legal assistance and/or information technology networks and hardware.
“Supporting innovation in the Commonwealth fuels local business growth and cultivates technology breakthroughs that help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the costs of clean, renewable energy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.
“These organizations help to grow the number of cleantech jobs in the Commonwealth, advance innovation, and equip entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed in a competitive global marketplace,” said MassCEC Interim CEO Stephen Pike. “Small businesses employ the majority of the Commonwealth’s nearly 100,000 clean energy workers, an industry that has grown by double digits over the past several years.”
This year, for the first time, qualified incubators were able to apply for three years’ worth of funding in an effort to provide ongoing and stable support to organizations with proven records of success in cleantech company development.
The four incubators receiving funding under the program are:
- Chestnut Innovation Center (Amesbury) - $40,000 over a one-year period –This is the Chestnut Innovation Center’s first time receiving funding through the IncubateMass Program. The center hosts 25 technology companies including several cleantech companies.
- Greentown Labs (Somerville) - $300,000 over a three-year period – A previous awardee, Somerville’s Greentown Labs supports 40 cleantech and water innovation companies and 400 employees.
- North Shore InnoVentures (Beverly) - $165,000 over a three-year period – North Shore InnoVentures hosts six cleantech and water innovation startups with 45 employees in its Beverly office and laboratory space, plus an additional cleantech member startup which has access to mentoring and other services.
- TechSandBox (Hopkinton) - $25,000 over a one-year period – TechSandBox supports four cleantech and water innovation companies. This will be their first time receiving funding through the IncubateMass Program.
There are nearly 100,000 clean energy workers at more than 6,400 companies across the Commonwealth, according to the 2015 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report. Clean energy jobs rose by 11.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, and clean energy employment in the Commonwealth has grown by 64 percent overall since 2010.
“MetroWest is a hotbed of innovation, and TechSandBox does a terrific job supporting our talented entrepreneurs and our growing small businesses,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These innovators are reshaping our economy in many areas, including cleantech and water innovation. TechSandBox gives them the tools they need, right here in our community, to continue to create and thrive.”
“Greentown Labs and its member companies play a huge role in furthering Massachusetts’ innovation economy,” said Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “With this financial support, Greentown Labs will continue to push Massachusetts toward a greener future.”
“I was happy to submit a letter in support of the Chestnut Innovation Center’s MassCEC grant application because over this past year, twenty businesses, creating sixty jobs, were launched or expanded there, making a positive impact in our community,” said Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives (D-Newburyport).
“The research and development work being done at Greentown Labs is critical to the future of our nation’s economy, and I am excited and very proud that this work is happening right here in Somerville,” said State Representative Timothy Toomey (D-Cambridge). “MassCEC’s support for incubator space has helped cement our city and region as a national and global center of cleantech research and innovation.”
"The sole mission of Greentown Labs is to provide its members with the resources they need to thrive and grow. Thanks to MassCEC, an essential member of our ecosystem, we're able to offer commercialization and support services to our clean technology entrepreneurs. With this grant, we'll continue to strengthen our member resources, empowering our member companies to solve the world's greatest energy and environmental challenges," said Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs.
“The North Shore has a strong and growing cleantech cluster, and the members and graduates of our incubation program are helping develop whole new industries that provide sustainable, well-paying jobs to the region, and environmental benefits to the world,” said Tom Kinneman, COO of North Shore InnoVentures. “We look forward to building on our long-standing partnership with MassCEC, and continuing to prove that Massachusetts is one of the best places in the world to build a successful cleantech company.”
“We are excited to use this IncubateMass grant to continue the Chestnut Innovation Center’s work focusing on supporting renewable energy and water conservation businesses,” said Chestnut Innovation Center CEO Robert O’Brien. “Developing new businesses focused on these areas, while supporting their interaction with existing businesses, will get products with great environmental impact to market, creating and retaining jobs here in Massachusetts.
“TechSandBox looks forward to using this award to provide the mentoring and expertise that’ll help get more cleantech and water products to market, including being a connector to the wealth of product development and manufacturing resources in this region of the state,” said TechSandBox CEO Barbara Finer.
Funding for IncubateMass comes from MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust. The Renewable Energy Trust was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998 as part of the deregulation of the electric utility market. The trust is funded by a systems benefit charge paid by Massachusetts electric customers of investor-owned utilities, such as Eversource or National Grid, as well as municipal electric departments that have opted to participate in the program. The average monthly charge is 32 cents for an average residential ratepayer.