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October 18, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Lucy: While the debate continues over how much of an impact robotics and automation will have on human jobs, Veo Robotics is betting on a different kind of future: a close and fluid collaboration between humans and machines.

Dylan: With a system designed to give factory robots awareness of the human workers around them, the Cambridge startup has raised a $12M Series A funding round led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) and Lux Capital.

Patrick Sobalvarro, Veo’s CEO and co-founder who was an early employee at Rethink Robotics, told me Veo’s system is designed for existing factory robots used by manufacturers. The goal is to increase a factory’s productivity and decrease downtime by making it safe for human workers to collaborate more closely with robots.

Human-machine collaboration has already been a fact-of-life for many manufacturers, but without a system like Veo’s, these machines often need to be shut off if a worker needs to get in close enough to, for example, replenish a fastener. In the case of a shutdown, however brief, it can cost manufacturers significantly — in some cases $50,000 a minute, Sobalvarro said. Machines can also be caged off, which can, for instance, lead to increased maintenance time.

With Veo, Sobalvarro wants to put an end to that because he believes the intelligence, judgement and dexterity of humans, combined with the strength, repeatability and tirelessness of machines, can do a better job overall. Read more: Google Ventures Backs Veo Robotics to Make Factory Robots Human-Aware

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves in Boston.

Lucy: The Weather Channel app users can now get recommendations for things to do and places to see that are compatible with the weather forecast. The new functionality works thanks to a collaboration between The Weather Company and Needham-based TripAdvisorThe new feature, which currently works only for the Samsung version of The Weather Channel app, uses machine learning to synchronize calendar events, weather forecasts and more than 830,000 TripAdvisor attractions. The system is trained to help users avoid the risk of getting wet during an outdoor activity, as well as missing the sunshine because of a scheduled trip to museums. Read more: TripAdvisor Now Suggests Things to do Based on Weather Forecast

Dylan: Rev, a program promoting women in Boston tech run by Sarah Downey of Accomplice and Diane Hessan, just announced its third group of women who are moving up in the Boston tech world. “The common thread that unites them: they’re our bet on who’s going to be running this ecosystem in a few years, they’ve already accomplished great things, and they’re on a trajectory to do even more,” Downey wrote in a post for us. The women selected this year include Danielle Cohen of Runkeeper, Jeannie Finks of Acquia, Colleen Miller of Toast, Shauni Deshmukh of Tettra and Katie Ng-Mak of HubSpot. Read more: Announcing Rev 3, the 20 Women Taking Over Boston Tech Next

Lucy: Speaking of partnerships, Apple announced today that it will be working directly with GE on a variety of things, TechCrunch reported. The two companies have committed to “build a set of development tools and to develop apps together using Apple’s design sensibility and deep understanding of iOS,” among other things.

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Spectrum Equity, a Boston-based private equity and VC firm, has raised a $1.25B fund. Portfolio companies include Bitly, Litmus, Extreme Reach and Survey Monkey.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: HubSpot announced that Jill Ward is taking over the board seat from early HubSpot investor Larry Bohn of General Catalyst. Ward was most recently president and COO of Fleetmatics and had also served as an executive at Intuit and Fidelity.

Lucy: Adam Medros is the new president and COO of EdX. Previously, Medros was SVP of global product at TripAdvisor. 

Dylan: SyncThink, a startup that uses VR eye-tracking to diagnosing concussion symptoms in athletes, added New Orleans Saints Tight End Coby Fleener to its athlete advisory board.

Lucy: The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship is adding Kit Hickey as a new Entrepreneur-in-Residence. While a student at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Hickey co-founded Ministry of Supply, a fashion and retail company that sells “performance professional” clothing.

Dylan: 55 Institutional Partners, an investment science and technology firm, appointed Dr. Leonid Kogan as its chief investment scientist. Konid is the chair of the finance department at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.

Lucy: Tonight, CIC Boston is hosting a panel on the dark side of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Presenters are David Fragale, who advises startups and enterprises in the blockchain space, and Eduard Kotysh, founder and CEO of SolidifiedThe event starts at 6:00 p.m.

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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