The Baker-Polito Administration announced $1,205,000 in grants to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship, awarded to 26 organizations in 18 communities throughout the Commonwealth. The fifth round of the Collaborative Workspace Program, administered by MassDevelopment, aims to accelerate business formation, job creation, and entrepreneurial activity in communities by supporting infrastructure that fuels locally-based innovation.

“Our Administration is proud to provide funding to help collaborative workspaces comply with the mandatory workplace safety standards essential to our COVID-19 reopening plan,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Now in its fifth round, the Collaborative Workspace Program continues to provide key support to our community of entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and students who drive economic activity and job creation across Massachusetts.”

“We are pleased to announce grants today to 26 collaborative workspaces across Massachusetts, which will help them improve their facilities and reopen safely,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Beyond funding additions and new equipment, these awards will help recipients buy new HVAC systems and desk dividers, and implement other needed safety measures as we continue to navigate this pandemic.”

“Today’s awards build on the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to helping businesses and organizations responsibly reopen,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “These grants will ensure that collaborative workspaces, key contributors to our innovation economy, have the tools and resources they need to safely carry on their work and, in turn, help drive our economic recovery.”

“The Collaborative Workspace Program is a resource for collaborative workspaces to expand, buy equipment, and – this year, in the wake of COVID-19 – fund critical safety improvements to protect members and staff,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “MassDevelopment is proud to administer this important program on behalf of the Commonwealth and we thank the Baker-Polito Administration and Legislature for their continued support.”

In June 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced the opening of the fifth round of Collaborative Workspace Program grants. Established collaborative workspaces could apply for grants of up to $100,000 for new equipment or building improvements, including adjustments to help spaces adhere to the social distancing and health and safety standards outlined in the Commonwealth’s sector-specific COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards.

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, the Collaborative Workspace Program has provided more than $8.6 million in 138 awards for the planning, development, and build-out of different types of collaborative workspaces. Through the first four rounds of the program, collaborative workspaces have added 6,821 users since implementing their grant-funded projects, and occupy approximately 780,990 square feet in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Many awards have benefited innovation spaces in Gateway Cities.

FY21 Collaborative Workspace Program Grantees 

Artisan’s Asylum, Allston-Brighton – $100,000
Artisan’s Asylum is a makerspace that provides members with access to personal studios, shared workshops, and open spaces for collaboration. The organization is relocating from Somerville to a larger building in Allston-Brighton, and will use grant funding to buy updated manufacturing tools.

GrubStreet Center for Creative Writing, Boston – $25,000
GrubStreet Center for Creative Writing offers classrooms, a dedicated space for working artist instructors, community space for gathering and coworking, and a literary stage for artists to perform their work. This grant will contribute to the installation of a new HVAC system.

The Record Co., Boston – $50,000
The Record Co. is a nonprofit community music workspace that aims to provide affordable music workspaces and professional development programs for local artists. This grant will fund a self-sanitizing HVAC system, UV-sanitizing lighting, and touchless features throughout the organization’s new facility.

Cambridge Innovation Center, Cambridge – $50,000
The Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) is a collaborative workspace for science and technology startups that provides office space, wet labs, and programming. The organization will use this grant to fund COVID-19 safety initiatives, such as creating a functional outdoor workspace and buying desk barriers.

Lab Central, Inc., Cambridge – $40,000
Lab Central, Inc. is a collaborative workspace for life sciences and biotech startup companies, and its Playroom serves as a multipurpose meeting and events space. The organization will use grant funds to build additional workstations and buy furniture for the Playroom, in order to meet COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards.

Falmouth Sharespace, Falmouth – $10,471
Falmouth Sharespace is a coworking facility that provides office and meeting space and virtual office services for professionals, startups, freelancers, and other businesses. This grant will be used to refit part of the organization’s space to meet COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards as well as to upgrade the HVAC system.

Wheelhouse Cowork, LLC, Gloucester – $65,000
Wheelhouse Cowork, LLC is Cape Ann’s first collaborative workspace and provides a venue for individuals and groups to realize their business goals. The organization will use this grant to expand its existing space to meet increased demand while maintaining social distancing protocols.

Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, Greenfield – $61,000
The Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center is a shared space for food entrepreneurs. The organization will use grant funds to buy new equipment to help clients enhance food safety and gain access to new markets.

Harbor Place Public Market, Haverhill – $75,000
Merrimack Street Ventures will use grant funds to design, build, and equip Harbor Place Public Market, a proposed 2,040-square-foot retail space along the Merrimack River that will feature 13 retail stalls where entrepreneurs can sell their products.

Cubit Coworks, Holyoke – $27,315
Cubit Coworks offers a mix of coworking, meeting, and collaborative spaces designed to help members and users be productive. The organization will use grant funding to build three new offices, six micro-offices, two phone booths, and an additional meeting room, add dividers between desks in open spaces, buy air-purification equipment, and expand Wi-Fi access capability and video security throughout the space.

Nuestras Raíces Farm/La Finca, Holyoke – $55,000
Nuestras Raíces Farm/La Finca is a site for farm, food, and cultural businesses with an on-site market store, event space, commercial greenhouses, and a retail stand. This grant will be used to build an outdoor covered training space, buy additional farm equipment to reduce contact, and buy personal protection equipment for members and employees.

599 Studios, Lawrence – $50,000
599 Studios is a collaborative workspace offering private studios and shared spaces with amenities for professional artists working in a variety of media. The organization will use funding to upgrade its air conditioning system, buy portable HEPA filtration units, add a contactless access system and ventilation in bathrooms, outfit a conference room with video conferencing equipment, install lighting, buy and install a spray booth for painting, buy temporary walls to create more private spaces, and build out and upgrade individual artist studios.

The WorcShop, Leicester – $65,000
The WorcShop is a makerspace and business incubator that is currently relocating from Worcester to a 52,000-square-foot facility in Leicester’s Rochdale Village. The organization will use this grant to fund infrastructure improvements and buy equipment for the new facility.

Lowell Makes, Lowell – $90,000
Lowell Makes is an established working laboratory and community makerspace that provides members and the greater Lowell community with access to shared workshops, equipment, education, and collaboration. The organization will use this grant to fund improvements and equipment for its new facility at 150 Western Avenue, including installing a utility sink for the ceramics area, renovating the main entrance to be front facing and compliant with ADA accessibility requirements, and buying metal shop equipment, a painting and finishing spray booth, scissor lift, custom signage for the main entrance, and cleaning equipment.

Groundwork, New Bedford – $7,790
Groundwork is a collaborative workspace located in the Quest Center for Innovation primarily serving freelancers, consultants, remote workers, and nonprofits. The organization will use grant funds to make COVID-19-related safety improvements, including buying new phone booths equipped with airflow vents and ceiling fans, standing-height desk dividers, and individual desks to replace communal work tables.

South Coast Surface Design, New Bedford – $5,000
South Coast Surface Design is a design studio for apparel, home décor, stationery, and action sports products. The organization will use grant funds to buy and install a utility sink, upgrade the HVAC system, improve studio lighting, and complete IT and security upgrades.

The Berkshire Innovation Center, Pittsfield – $14,435
The Berkshire Innovation Center is a collaborative workspace designed to support the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and engineering community in Berkshire County. The organization will use grant funds to buy and install a simulation lab with augmented reality and virtual reality systems that will offer access to advanced, high-tech prototyping and product design review, socially distant training, and access to virtual meetings and conferences that will benefit its partners in industry and academia.

Greentown Labs, Inc., Somerville – $70,000
Greentown Labs, Inc. is North America’s largest climate-tech startup incubator, offering members prototyping, wet lab, and electronics lab space, shared office space, a machine shop, software and business resources, and access to a large corporate and investor network. The organization will use grant funds to install leasehold and operating improvements to better meet COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards, including upgrading the HVAC and air filtration systems, installing hand sanitation stations, adding desk dividers and barriers, and upgrading technology in conference rooms.

Urban Food Brood, Springfield – $50,000
Urban Food Brood is a shared food manufacturing and distribution facility, home to an urban farm, farmer’s market, coffee roasting company, cold brew company, artisanal bakery, and catering business. This grant will fund costs associated with the build-out of the production, packaging, and process elements of each business, and a proposed internship curriculum for students at neighboring colleges and a vocational high school.

Nova Labs, Turners Falls – $30,000
Nova Labs is a collaborative makerspace located in a series of conjoined garages that serves as a community space for “gearheads,” creators, woodworkers, and tinkerers. This grant will fund façade improvements, garage door and security improvements, and exterior lighting and awnings at the facility.

Black Seed Farmers Market, Worcester – $50,000
Black Seed Farmers Market is a collaborative workspace for immigrant and refugee youth and adults and an incubator for immigrant women-owned startup food businesses. The organization will use this grant to fund flooring and plumbing improvements, kitchen and bathroom renovations, and other improvements to the storefront and commercial kitchen space.

MBI StartUp & ScaleUp Centers at 17 Briden Street, Worcester – $45,000
MBI StartUp & ScaleUp Centers at 17 Briden Street is a life sciences incubator providing private laboratory suites and services to early-stage entrepreneurs. This grant will be used to buy an emergency power system to provide back-up power for freezers, incubators, and other safety equipment.

Technocopia, Worcester – $50,000
Technocopia is 10,000-square-foot nonprofit, membership-based maker and workspace. The organization offers rental bays, a variety of tools, training classes and workshops, and access to complete wood, metal, glass, and laser cutter shops, a 3D printer station, CNC router, electronics bay, and textile and design studios. The organization will use this grant to fit out its recently added shops and improve safety needs at the facility.

Worcester Idea Lab & Accelerator, Worcester – $1,855
Worcester Idea Lab & Accelerator is a collaborative workspace that provides office space for a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, high-tech startups, and universities. The organization is transforming a former restaurant into an additional collaborative workspace, and will use grant funds to buy furniture for the facility.

WorcLab, Worcester – $22,134
WorcLab is a collaborative workspace that provides the space, programs, training, and mentoring entrepreneurs need to propel their ideas into the market by offering 10,000 square feet of private offices, desks, conference rooms, event space, a kitchen, and prototyping lab equipped with a 3D printer. The organization will use this grant to further fit out the prototyping lab with new equipment.

Worcester Regional Food Hub Union Station Shared Commercial Kitchen, Worcester – $100,000
The Worcester Regional Food Hub is a shared commercial kitchen currently located in the Greendale People’s Church that provides food business entrepreneurs access to professional-grade cooking, baking, and cold-storage equipment as well as training certification and business planning assistance. The organization will use this grant to fit out its new headquarters in the lower level of Worcester’s Union Station, including buying equipment for two shared commercial kitchens.

About MassDevelopment
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.