On September 27, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) released a Request for Proposals seeking applications to the InnovateMass program, which provides up to $250,000 in grant funding for clean energy and water innovation technologies that demonstrate a strong potential for commercialization. In this cycle, MassCEC will also be funding a robotics technology demonstration project under the InnovateMass Robotics Carve-Out. Grants will be awarded to projects that (1) demonstrate innovations in a robot’s energy supply and/or storage system; or (2) deploy robots for clean energy applications.
Building, maintaining, and scaling a sustainable and innovative robotics companies requires accounting for a number of corporate and legal considerations unique to the start-up technology space. For those considering submitting a proposal under the InnovateMass Robotics Carve-Out, Mintz Levin’s Robotics, UAV, and AI practice may offer some valuable insights. When establishing or expanding on a robotics venture, there are a number of vital decisions to be made each step of the way, such as: hiring a key developer, negotiating a critical license or government contract, developing a commercialization strategy, sourcing and negotiating with investors, or seeking exit. Mintz Levin’s team of attorneys and technology specialists has helped groundbreaking robotics companies across the country successfully navigate these questions, and shares key lessons and invaluable resources for similar ventures on its interactive dynamic website, http://www.mintzedge.com/.
As MassCEC’s RFP reflects, the push for scalable innovation in energy, robotics, and artificial intelligence technology is greater than ever before. Along with a skyrocketing demand to commercialize these technologies, we are also seeing major growth in private investment and M&A transactions in the robotics space. 2016 saw over $19 billion paid to acquire 50 robotics companies – a huge leap from $2.27 billion for 32 acquisitions in 2015. 2016 also proved to be the “best year ever for funding robotics startup companies,” with 128 companies seeing a boom in venture capital investments totaling $1.95 billion (a 50% increase from 2015). Companies like Google and Softbank have a vested interest in harnessing and building upon the significant progress initiated by smaller, more targeted tech enterprises, and they’re willing to pay for it – so it makes sense for robotics companies to strategize early for a potential exit transaction down the road.