With new investment, Harvard plans to translate ‘strong technology’ into more startups

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A wearable device that monitors your weight lifting. The fastest way to 3D print. A cheap way to capture carbon from the atmosphere.

These are all new technologies coming out of Harvard University that will lead to new startups in the next few years.

Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science launched “Harvard Grid” on Wednesday, designed to promote this type of entrepreneurship among students and faculty. The program will be housed in the school’s newly opened Science and Engineering Complex in Alston.

Grid’s CEO is Paul Hyre, who founded Boston-based Sano Diagnostics and has spent the past decade in the medical device and healthcare fields. He says he wants to help Harvard’s physical science and engineering research impact society in a more meaningful way.

It’s one thing to build a robot, the researcher said, and another thing if a robot can be placed inside a human body and fix a heart valve.

According to Sam Lees, executive director of strategic partnerships at Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, the focus on hard technology began in 2010. Since then, 16 startups have raised $150 million and exited the program, including Verve Motion, Soft Robotics and RightHand Robotics.

Along with Grid, Lees said Harvard is doubling its funding commitment to the accelerator. Harvard declined to say how much it would invest in the grid, but said the commitment would support the grid’s first five years.

The grid plans to select three to five teams for the first round in February. Applications for the program will open next month.

Selected inductees will have access to space in the Science and Engineering Complex and more formal business education and mentoring. Hyre said the grid gives startups a “leg up,” so they can go from accepting government funding to attracting venture capitalists.

“Starting a science-based startup is very different from starting a social media-based startup,” says Lees.

Strong tech startups try to solve big problems by achieving scientific or engineering breakthroughs in areas like climate change or hunger. These companies often They require a lot of capital and take years to get to market, which is unattractive to most VC firms.

Grid is in the same position as The Motor, a venture firm founded in 2016 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The goal is for these two organizations to be closely linked, as Grid helps Harvard projects reach the commercialization stage and the engine invests in startups.

Engine CEO Katie Rae serves as a member of the Grid Accelerator Project Selection Committee. And Harvard invested in The Engine’s last $230 million fundraiser.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter. @anissagardizy8 And on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.



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