The grant – which was awarded last week through the Baker-Polito administration through MassDevelopment -- was actually one of two grants from the program to Newton-based organizations. Empow Studios was awarded nearly $90,000 to build a lab in the N-Squared Innovation District focused on providing virtual reality and augmented reality tools.
Started in 2015 as a way to capture and expand the innovation economy outside of the urban core, the NIC is a partnership between the City of Newton, the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and the chamber and has grown into a key component of Newton’s entrepreneurial culture. The NIC provides co-working and offices for companies that are looking to scale, serving nearly 70 entrepreneurs daily. However, the current space suffers from several limiting factors, including limited parking and event space.
“The NIC’s current home at the former Newton Center Library at Newton Corner is pushed to its limits while still more entrepreneurs want to take advantage of the community developing there,” said Newton-Needham Regional Chamber President Greg Reibman. “We are actively working with the CIC and the city to identify a new home and this grant will help us find the right new location, support build out costs and establish an operating model.”
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said she looking forward to finding a new home for the Newton Innovation Center.
“The NIC has a proven record of attracting entrepreneurial talent to Newton and we are looking forward to partnering with the chamber and the Cambridge Innovation Center to grow that energy and spirit,” Fuller said. “Whether it’s researchers in the biotech field or the venture capitalists who drive investments, we have to give them a place to grow those companies so Newton is not just their homes, but home to their businesses too.”
“We're very thankful to have received this grant as it will play an important role in helping the NIC reach its next level of development. CIC is looking forward to being a part of those next steps,” added Mark Moreau, strategic operations director with the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Newton-based Empow Studios Building New Digital Lab
The grant for NIC is just one of two program grants presented to Newton-based organizations. Empow Studios was granted $89,931 to build a lab focused around state of the art virtual reality, augmented reality, gaming, 3D photography, display and digital production equipment at its new headquarters on Needham Street in the N-Squared Innovation District. Empow currently focuses on 7 to 14 year-olds, but the new lab would be aimed at older students, including those in high school and college, as well as adults.
In this third round of the Massachusetts Collaborative Workspace Program, the Baker-Polito Administration released more than $2.2 million to 28 organizations to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship in 21 communities across the Commonwealth.
Through its first two rounds of grants, the Collaborative Workspace Program provided $3 million in funding to more than 50 organizations for the planning, development, and build-out of different types of collaborative workspaces. Statewide, collaborative workspaces have reported more than 7,000 users, garnered 2,000 members and occupy approximately 375,000 square feet in cities and towns across Massachusetts.
“Massachusetts is a global leader in innovation and is home to cutting-edge companies and creative entrepreneurs,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By supporting the development of collaborative workspaces across the Commonwealth, we’re creating opportunities for small, independent businesses and supporting job creation and community building that will continue to propel our state forward.