Boston Tech Watch: Harvard Accelerator, Garden Robot Funding & More

[Updated, 10:54am. See below] This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking a new accelerator program at Harvard University; a key hire by a Babson College program that supports women entrepreneurs; and recent venture capital investments in robotics, artificial intelligence, materials science, and marketing. Read on for details.

—Harvard Innovation Labs created Launch Lab X, a nine-month accelerator program for startups led by Harvard alumni. Ventures accepted into the program will receive free office space at the main “i-lab” space in Boston’s Allston neighborhood. Companies won’t have to give up an equity stake, but they aren’t guaranteed funding, either—they’ll have a chance to win up to $75,000 as automatic finalists in the i-lab’s annual President’s Innovation Challenge.

Meanwhile, in June, the i-lab will stop operating its Launch Lab co-working space, located nearby the organization’s main offices, while a new space is identified, according to its website.

—Nift, a Boston-based startup that has created a software-enabled rewards program for small businesses, closed a $16.5 million Series A funding round from Spark Capital, Foundry Group, and Accomplice.

—Boston-based materials science startup Poly6 Technologies recently raised a little more than $5 million in equity funding, per an SEC filing. Poly6 was one of the early companies to participate in the STEX25 startup accelerator program at MIT.

—Spotted grabbed $4 million in a funding round led by Schooner Capital, bringing its venture capital haul to almost $9 million, the Boston Business Journal reported. The Boston-based data analytics startup helps brands and marketing agencies make decisions about hiring celebrities for marketing campaigns.

—Legit announced it received a $2.6 million seed investment led by Eniac Ventures, with contributions from Elementum Ventures and Max Ventures. Cambridge, MA-based Legit developed software that it says uses artificial intelligence technologies to help inventors determine the patentable aspects of their work and compile information needed to file a patent application. The startup’s product is based on research at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), according to a press release.

Franklin Robotics, the North Billerica, MA-based developer of a garden-weeding robot, pulled in $1 million in equity funding, according to an SEC filing. You can hear from Franklin Robotics co-founder and CTO Joe Jones—a co-inventor of the Roomba robotic vacuum—next week at Xconomy’s Robo Madness conference at iRobot’s headquarters in Bedford, MA.

—Kara Miller was named director of Babson College’s Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab, a program that helps women entrepreneurs build their businesses. Miller previously helped create Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE BOS), a City of Boston initiative that supports women company builders.

—Nantero, a Woburn, MA-based nanotech company, said it has received a new investment of $29.7 million from eight strategic investors, including Dell Technologies Capital, Cisco Investments, and CFT Capital. The company also said it is expanding development of its carbon-nanotube memory products with customers. Nantero was founded in 2001 by Harvard University alumni and has raised more than $120 million in total investment. [This item was added after original publication—Eds.]

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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