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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Draper Empowers Almost 200 Mass. Startups, Small Companies

Company Sponsors MassChallenge, Greentown Labs to Accelerate Boston-based Technology Growth

CAMBRIDGE, MA – There’s a lot of innovation percolating in the Boston area. Here, hopeful startups convene each day to conduct their research, test their proposals and live out their dreams, and Draper is helping to sponsor the work of almost 200 of the best and brightest startups in the area.  

“It’s important for us to work with startups and to tap into their innovation and creativity,” explained Nathan Wiedenman, director of Draper’s Sembler Office. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. These organizations need access to funding, engineering expertise, and specialty facilities. At the same time, Draper customers rely on the company to develop the best solutions for complex global challenges. Responding to this customer need requires that we understand what’s coming down the pike in technology development and where we could partner with companies to deliver the best solutions.”

This is the first year Draper has been a Platinum Sponsor of MassChallenge, a competitive, not-for-profit accelerator that helps early-stage startups launch and grow for zero-equity. Key aspects of the program include mentorship, programming, resources like the MADE@MassChallenge R&D lab, and access to a network of corporate sponsors that provide valuable expertise, training, collaboration, and other support. At the culmination of the four-month program, the highest impact startups are rewarded with an opportunity to win shares of more than $1.5 million in zero-equity awards.

"By partnering with Draper, our startups will have access to expert mentorship, on-premise support and a community of employees dedicated to helping early-stage startups bring their ideas to life," said Scott Bailey, managing director, MassChallenge Boston. "We're excited to be working with Draper to help accelerate the impact our entrepreneurs are having in sectors like clean energy, high tech and digital health."

In addition to MassChallenge, recently Draper signed an agreement to be a Gigawatt Sponsor of Greentown Labs—a startup incubator that provides resources to help entrepreneurs get a leg up in the industry. Greentown Labs is working with over 50 companies in the energy and clean technology space. "Draper has paved the way for innovative prototype development and is well-known for its engineering expertise," said Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs. "Our member companies have already expressed a lot of interest in the opportunity to utilize some of Draper's impressive facilities!"

Draper’s role with each of the sponsorships is to conduct seminars, provide technical mentoring and to even help support in a more extensive role, depending on the need and the company.

The company began providing access to its expertise and facilities to startups and small companies last year when it launched the Sembler program. The program began as a pilot microfluidics prototyping program that enabled startups to take advantage of Draper’s capabilities to cost-effectively and rapidly prototype more than 200 microfluidic prototypes over a six month time period. The pilot confirmed an unmet need existed for startup access to expensive equipment and expertise, and it spurred the growth of a new Sembler program office within Draper that expands its offerings far beyond microfluidic fabrication.

Wiedenman said that by engaging Draper’s Sembler office, “innovators can access Draper’s expertise and facilities to prototype and test a broad range of new products from microfluidics to electronics or robotics systems—to name a few. This work is completed on a fee-for-service basis, while the startups maintain ownership of their intellectual property.”

Yegor Podgorsky, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at ARMR Systems, working to engineer wearable hemorrhage control systems for U.S. troops. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Danford, MassChallenge
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