At the end of every month, we recap the biggest tech and startup happenings in Rhode Island. We have an archive of past roundups here. To get this info weekly (Tuesday afternoons, to be exact), sign up for the Rhode Island Inno Beat newsletter.
This time around, it’s less about the quantity of the Rhode Island innovation news, but rather the quality. There have been a number of huge announcements — from rumored acquisitions to HQ location shifts — with the potential for immense impact on the local ecosystem.
Let’s take a look.
1. Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that announced that IT consulting giant Infosys, headquartered in India, has entered into a “multi-year partnership” with Rhode Island. It will bring 500 jobs to the state over the next five years as part of its new Infosys Design and Innovation Hub. “We are excited to welcome Infosys to Rhode Island,” Raimondo said in an Infosys press release.
“Because of our investments in higher education and job training at [Community College Rhode Island] and other institutions across the state, Rhode Islanders are well-equipped and well-prepared to compete for these good paying jobs. Infosys joins a growing local market of innovative, advanced industry companies that have chosen to plant a flag in Rhode Island.” The move is part of Infosys’ push to increase its American-based workforce by 10,000 in the next two years. Read our coverage on the announcement here.
2. Wellness tech company Virgin Pulse has announced it would move its global headquarters from Framingham, Mass., to Providence, WPRI.com reports. The move comes two years after it bought the Providence-based software company ShapeUp and a year after VP leadership announced that Gov. Gina Raimondo and ShapeUp founder Rajiv Kumar encouraged Virgin Pulse to both keep its Rhode Island office open and add around 300 jobs to its roster through 2021.
“One, it’s a pretty cool town,” said CEO David Osborne on the decision to move its HQ. “We looked at our growth trajectory, our hiring plans, we realized we needed to be in a city; we immediately thought about Boston. Rajiv convinced me otherwise, to come and look at Rhode Island. We have a front-row recruiting seat to all the great universities here.” The physical location of the company’s front row will be the old Journal building, a 48,000 square-foot space.
3. Pawtucket-based Hasbro has reportedly started acquisition discussions with rival toy maker Mattel. Terms of the potential deal haven’t been disclosed, and no one from either camp has officially spoken on the matter. In the meantime, analysts are chiming in on the move. Engadget, for example, argues that Hasbro’s tech-focused toys have given the company an edge over competitors like Mattel, who have yet to embrace similar trends as fully as Hasbro. The same Engadget report also says that the deal could be good for both parties, seeing as Hasbro “ditched” a few manufacturing facilities a while back, while Mattel still has several.
4. Pat Sabatino, CEO of Datarista, announced the creation of the Rhode Island Coalition of Entrepreneurs. It’s a group that’s been meeting that’s been meeting quietly since July, but is just now opening its doors to any Rhode Island-based CEO or founder of a high-growth startup. The goal? To facilitate a few introductions.
“One of the things that has always struck me as odd is most entrepreneurs here in town don’t know each other,” he said. “I’ve had instances of talking to people who had adjacent products and offices less than a mile apart and they didn’t know each other.” Ultimately, RICE hopes to use its trans-industry alliance to encourage greater innovation, while fostering a more robust entrepreneurial community in Rhode Island. That includes encouraging up-and-coming innovators, by providing mentorship, events and other resources.
5. CommerceRI and Gov. Gina Raimondo have announced the newest recipients of the Innovation Vouchers: Alcinous Pharmaceuticals, LLC, which received a $50,000 grant; CBC, LLC, which received a grant slightly north of $48,000; and Modus Techwear, LLC, which received a grant of $50,000, URI reports. Read up on the other 2017 Innovation Voucher winners in our two-part series, here and here.
6. Hyperlocal digital communications company Loud-Hailer has announced the launch of its first Connected City app, Providence2GO. The app allows users within “listening range” of participating groups to receive area-specific content, such as pertinent deals and events.
7. DesignXRI and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training have announced the relaunch of the Design Catalyst program, an initiative that provides design-driven businesses with $90K in funds, or up to $15K to each participant, the Providence Journal reports. Applications are open until Dec. 8 on the DesignXRI website.
8. A Comparably survey of the best CEOs in America found strategy, design, and development agency Lullabot’s head, Matt Westgate, the eleventh-best CEO among small- and mid-sized companies, USA Today reports. Lullabot is based in Providence.
9. Overwatch Systems Ltd. will shut down its Austin office, a move that Providence-based parent company Overwatch said is due to “a strategic shift away from intelligence analysis,” the Austin Business Journal reports. Overwatch builds data-analysis tools used by the U.S. Army, the report adds.