Fueling the Gateway Cities Collaborative Workspace Movement

The Transformative Development Fund will fuel the growth of collaborative workspaces—a budding new approach to draw the innovation economy into the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities.

Collaborative workspaces are hubs that have become popular among a new generation of entrepreneurs. Groups seeking to build collaborative workspace are sprouting up across the Gateway Cities. True to their manufacturing heritage, many are looking to develop “makerspaces” that provide start-ups with the equipment to design and prototype new products.

MassDevelopment will be awarding grants from the TDI fund to further the build-out of collaborative workspaces in different phases of development. This is a great opportunity for Gateway Cities to showcase their entrepreneurial energy.

Check out some examples of Gateway City collaborative workspaces:

Shared Spaces -Lowell

Lowell is one of the models of success for the Gateway Cities in that it has four makerspaces that are at different stages of operation. Some are formatted in the traditional makerspace layout where equipment and space is made available to makers. Other spaces are utilized for trainings and classes like New Vestures activity space. Other Gateway Cities can build off of Lowell’s model and build a makerspace community within their cities.

The Geek Group – Western Massachusetts, Springfield

The Geek Group is one of the more well-known makerspaces with sites across the US. The Springfield center has been developed with a combination of donations and member dues. This group serves as a model for the development of other makerspaces in Gateway Cities.

TESLA/WAG – Worcester

TELSA/WAG acts as more of a maker community than merely a single space. Each space has a specialty, whether it is in electronics, hardware, or woodworking, they are a group of skilled individuals who work as a collective to build off ideas and use each other’s’ skills. They have ambitions of growing out their space and upgrading equipment and operations.

Haverhill Hardware Horizons Competition – Haverhill

A different model from other Gateway Cities, Haverhill opened up a competition in 2012 in order to further promote manufacturing and technology. The competition is backed my public and private sponsorship with the ultimate goal being to encourage startups and innovators to submit ideas and bring ideas to scale. Entries need to be dedicated to developing new hardware products. Prizes vary from $10,000 for first place, to discounted or free facilities and equipment for lower finishers.

South Coast Innovator Labs – Taunton

In the early stages of development, South Coast Innovator Labs (SCIL) hosts a team of two dozen innovators and is currently progressing toward finding a more permanent home. Their resources limit the frequency of their meetings and the group only gets together in public spaces when they can find central locations. However, recent developments show some promise as they look to partner with other groups to share a working space in the Taunton/Fall River area.

Gateway Consulting – Lawrence/Gateway Cities

Gateway Consulting is a makerspace group dedicated to housing themselves within Massachusetts’s Gateway Cities. The idea is to have each Gateway City space operate within a community development corporation but come together and work as one collaborative body. While also in the early planning stages, Gateway Consulting has plans in place to open their first location at Union Crossing in Lawrence. Each location will have a unique environment as they look to foster the creative minds of the Gateway Cities.

– Eric Tenczar


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