Innovation Institute at Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) has provided a $200,000 grant that will enable marine technology start-ups, technologists and innovators enhanced access to the facilities at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
MassTech executive sirector Carolyn Kirk announced the grant during the keynote panel at the “5th Annual Entrepreneur Showcase and Leadership Forum” hosted by WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics.
The $200,000 grant will support the creation of the “D’Works Fund” at WHOI, which will boost access of early-phase marine technology startups to WHOI’s ocean prototyping and test facilities, and to technical and engineering support.
For small Massachusetts companies developing marine robotics and other innovative technologies, access to world-class test facilities, expert engineers, and operators is critical, helping enhance product development.
In recent years, WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics has witnessed increasing demand for its services, driven by growth in the entrepreneur and innovator communities in the region.
Making these specialized resources available on a flexible, non-ownership basis is a documented need identified by WHOI during the launch and operation of the DunkWorks rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing facility, which opened in July 2017 following the support of a $5 million MassTech R&D infrastructure grant.
Facilities available to startups include those funded by the grant of $5 million awarded to the Center for Marine Robotics by the Innovation Institute at MassTech in 2014. That award supported WHOI’s “Robots to the Sea” campaign, which has constructed facilities that enable the rapid development and deployment of marine robotics innovations.
In addition to the DunkWorks rapid prototype center launched in 2017, infrastructure supported by that grant include a Pressure Test Facility launched in 2018 and ongoing enhancements to the in-water Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory.
A final investment under the program will be to bring to life a new marine accelerator, called DisruptorWorks, scheduled to launch later this year.
The Innovation Institute at MassTech also made a $2 million research center grant to WHOI in 2008 for the development of ocean observing infrastructure and a marine technology test bed. This award supported a successful proposal to the National Science Foundation that leveraged over $100 million in federal funding.