Founder Institute joins forces with NASA Ames, MassRobotics to launch AI, robotics accelerator program in Boston

July 13, 2021


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The Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator, has announced the launch of a new program where early-stage entrepreneurs in Boston can leverage NASA technology to build artificial intelligence and robotics startups.

In addition to partnering with NASA Ames Research Center, the Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute has brought on board MassRobotics, a non-profit innovation hub and startup cluster focused on the needs of the robotics and AI community.

The Founder Institute AI & Robotics Accelerator Program is open for application to entrepreneurs working on AI, aerospace, space, robotics, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, virtual reality, voice, drones, and related technologies.

AI and robotics proved to be a powerful combination for automating tasks and processes during the coronavirus pandemic, and the industry is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of around 29% to reach $12.36 billion by 2023.

Ignacio Castro, managing director of Boston Founder Institute (Image source: LinkedIn)

The new program will offer startups connections to select NASA Ames software and technologies for licensing opportunities, mentorship opportunities with Founder Institute, MassRobotics, and NASA Ames technology subject experts, more than $2 million in partner deals and resources, and many more benefits.

“In the past year or so, everyone has experienced first hand how fragile our world is and how normal can change in the blink of an eye, so that’s why it is so important that founders focus on impact driven ventures,” Ignacio Castro, managing director of the Boston Founder Institute, said in a press release.

He added that their partnership with NASA and MassRobotics reflects continued support of founders who are building advanced technologies that can “positively impact humanity as we desperately need it”.

“NASA has had a long history of finding new, innovative uses for its space and aeronautics technologies,” Kimberly Minafra, Software Release Authority, Technology Transfer program, NASA Ames Research Center, noted, according to the media announcement.

Kimberly Minafra, NASA Ames Research Center (Image source: LinkedIn)

“We look forward to helping connect NASA technology to startups that can effectively commercialize the technology for the betterment of life on Earth.”

“This is a unique partnership with a global early stage acceleration program like the Founder Institute and a global powerhouse of space innovation. We are excited to share our network and expertise in the robotics, AI and IoT spaces to create a better world for generations to come,” added Fady Saad, MassRobotics’ co-founder and vice president of strategic partnerships.

Fady Saad, co-founder of MassRobotics (Image source: Twitter)

To celebrate the AI and robotics accelerator program, the Founder Institute Boston will be holding several free online events in the coming weeks, beginning with:

Several AI and robotics companies have already been through the program, including Ceres Robotics, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, Atomos, an award-winning company developing in-space transportation services, and Endiatx that is developing a pill robot capable of traversing the gastrointestinal tract in 30 minutes.

They will be joining more than 5,000 companies that the Founder Institute has helped build since 2009 through its pre-seed startup accelerator program with chapters across 90 countries.

Some of the other supporting partners of The Founder Institute AI & Robotics Accelerator Program are First Republic Bank,, >Get Hackers, SBIR Advisors, The Capital Network, Hubspot for Startups, and TiE Boston.

Early-stage entrepreneurs interested in building AI and robotics startups in Boston should apply here. Several fellowships will be awarded to top applicants, allowing them to participate in the program for free.

The final deadline for applications is September 12, and the program will run from September 21, 2021 to January 26, 2022.


Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.


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