Post Graduate Planning and I went on a field trip last Friday. Just a hop, skip and a jump from the south station T stop lies the "innovation district," otherwise known as Ft. Point, in Boston. This evolving center of art and industry consists of newly renovated mill buildings that have new and thriving businesses moving in. Eventually we found the right building, and after going down a few levels from the "ground floor" we came to a bright green door leading to a hallway, with sun pouring in. Upon entry, we spied a few offices, and an enormous workshop area. We had arrived at Greentown Labs, a recently-formed conglomerate of clean energy companies.
There are currently 10 companies working at Greentown Labs: Airventions, Arista Solutions, Coincident, Dynamo Micropower, Fusion Research Technologies, Green Trade Association, Sol Solution, Altaeros Energies, OsComp Systems, and Promethean Power. These last three companies each host an Olin intern: Altaeros (Wyatt Andree '12) creates low-cost, lighter than air, airborne wind turbines; OsComp (Johannes Santen '12) works on finding better ways to compress and transport natural gas; Promethean Power (Alex Niswander '12) is developing solar refrigeration technology for the Indian dairy Industry.
Based on what Coincident Founder (and Greentown Managing Director) Jason Hanna had to say, Greentown Labs is looking forward to continued collaboration with Olin. They like what they see in these first three interns and want more like them! Coincident would consider hiring students on a per-project basis to do software development of home energy consumption monitors and OsComp will have a SCOPE team (working with Professor Jessica Townsend) in the coming school year. I sat in on a meeting with OsComp about their potential direction with the SCOPE project, and be assured that the work will be exciting!
Meanwhile, Promethean Power's Olin intern, Alex, had positive things to say about the direction that business is taking. Most of his work there is done for now, the company has functioning prototypes, and much of the team is now working in India. The next step for them is to sell their product to the Indian milk industry and, while this may not be the ideal job for an engineer, Alex says he wouldn't mind spending some time in India if that's where Promethean needs him.
These are just a few examples of the fascinating clean-tech projects taking place every day at 337 Summer St, in Boston. Greentown Labs struck me as the Bat-Cave (with more sunlight) of startups. Its location is convenient yet unassuming, but once you're inside, you are awestruck by the place. Looking at the brick edifice, I never would have guessed that inside I'd find such a dense collection of innovative minds and growing labs. Clean-tech companies like this are making a significant difference in a world where affordable, alternative energy is a must, and Greentown Labs is clearly a key player here in Boston.