Climate change is quite literally, a hot topic. Once a fringe conversation, climate change is a dominant news category and a phenomenon that is finally being taken seriously. Humanity is rallying to help the planet and everyone from policy makers to in …
Greentown Labs is a nonprofit organization that strives to solve the climate crisis through entrepreneurship and collaboration. The organization started serendipitously in 2011 when a group of MIT grads got together to rent a warehouse in Cambridge where they could all work together building the technology for their startups. Initially, sharing the space was about saving money on rent, but they found that working in the same space had other enormous benefits. They shared tools and resources, and when visitors like investors would drop in, they got a chance to meet each of the companies, not just one. Eventually, the space moved to Boston’s innovation district and grew to 55 companies. Greentown now has a 100,000 square foot space in Somerville, Massachusetts which was opened in 2017 and a 40,000 square foot sister office in Houston that in total serves 200 green technology startups with office and prototyping space, community engagement, and opportunities for investment.
The 2023 Greentown Labs Climate Tech Summit was held over 2 days in November with one session in Houston and the other in Boston. I went to the Boston event which was a half-day focused on climate change, technology solutions, and entrepreneurship. The event featured entrepreneurs that work and office out of the Greentown space, and the key note was a “fire-side chat” by Massachusetts governor Maura Healy where she touched on investment in off-shore windpower and leveling up education for technicians to support green tech. Other sessions included using partnerships to accelerate climate tech businesses and challenges related to late stage startups. Select founders from the incubator were also given time to pitch their companies to the 100+ attendees, and there was plenty of time set aside for networking.
Massachusetts governor Maura Healy does a fireside chat with CEO of Greentown Labs, Kevin Knobloch.
My favorite part of the event was the lab tour. After lunch, a section of the incubator lab space was opened up to attendees. It was the ultimate maker/ entrepreneurship space. Tech companies were arranged in nooks in the industrial part of the building and were huddled together like food stalls in an Asian food market. Everywhere you looked were 3D printers, electronics, and high tech gizmos and sensors to support the research being conducted by the resident startups that included new forms of plant based meat, smart recycling tech, and high insulation aerogel windows. My favorite company was SpadXTech which was showing their microbe grown leather which is a green alternative to standard and vegan leather that can be used for clothing products and purses.
Startup company, rStream, demonstrates their recycling sorting machine in the depts of the Greentown Labs incubator space.
Boston Hardware Meetup
After an enriching and inspiring day at the summit, my time in Boston was punctuated by a visit to the Boston Hardware meetup group. The event was hosted at the office of desktop 3D printer company Form Labs, and sponsored by the IoT company, Particle. The Particle team gave attendees free Photon 2 WiFi development boards, and they and they invited me to speak about Enventys Partner’s experience as a Particle development partner. Andrea Wolga, Senior Firmware Engineer at Mamava, and a client of mine, drove in from Vermont to be part of the fun. Erik Fasnacht, Andrea and myself talked about how Mamava lost their cellular chip supplier, how Particle was able to step in to fill the void with their hardware and software solution, and how Enventys Partners was able to provide engineering services to quickly redesign the circuit board. It was a great night to meet local startups, students, and entrepreneurs and hear about all of the interesting technology being created in the area.
Myself, Andrea Wolga, and Erik Fasnacht before the Boston Hardware Meetup event.
After a full day immersion in the Boston innovation scene I was blown away by the how vibrant their community is. There is a diverse and tech savvy student population that is passionate about solving problems. Paired with the immense resources and funding available for entrepreneurship and startups results in a plethora of opportunities for young companies to pursue their technology and make a difference. Greentech Labs and Boston are both wonderful places to visit and highly recommended for those looking to build their tech startup.
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