Incubator Expands Opportunities for Entrepreneurs Creating Game-Changing Energy Technologies
It's hard to ascertain how much power exists in Greentown Labs’ numbers—the small business incubator just keeps growing.
The Sommerville, Mass. sustainable startup accelerator started out two years ago as a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs in a Cambridge warehouse bouncing ideas off one another. Their desire to share research and development methods and resources—and some day do so in a cool space—is part of what bound the original members together.
That day came earlier this fall when co-founder Jason Hanna and the other three original members moved into a glossy, energy efficient new space with the other 100 or so people who have have joined Greentown Labs since the early days.
“Two years ago, we were just four startups who needed affordable space to build things," Hanna said. "Now, we are home to 28 organizations, 100 employees, a 15-company wait list and a vibrant community that is helping to grow the clean energy ecosystem." All of this has exceeded our expectations in every sense of the word.”
At 24,000 square feet, Greentown Labs is more than twice the size of the former facility. It contains a prototyping lab, co-located office space, a shared machine and a shared electronics shop. There's also space for functions like the EnergyBar: Sustainable America Edition event, where nine startups will pitch their ideas and vie for a $5,000 cash grant and a year's worth of rent and space at Greentown Labs.
The incubator received energy efficient in-kind support and donations in the form of LED lights, environmentally friendly carpet tiles and a variant refrigerant flow system from Mitsubishi upon its move. Greentown was also the first recipient of a $300,000 working capital loan through Somerville’s new one million dollar revolving innovation fund. Greentown Labs also received a $150,000 loan from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
"The space itself is designed to be environmentally friendly with [LEDs donated by Digital Lumens] and a high-efficiency HVAC system," said Greentown Labs board member Jason Ethier, whose Dynamo Micropower was the fifth company to join the incubator.
"The environment itself is designed to be that way. We filter companies that come in to build a culture that really focuses on openness, sharing of ideas and customer needs. That helps bring in companies in, but we don't just let anybody in."