CriticalMass, a Venture-Backed Co-Working Space for Startups, to Open at CIC

Boston has MassChallenge. Now Cambridge has CriticalMass. If nothing else, this will help fan the flames of the budding Boston-Cambridge startup incubator/real estate rivalry. (OK, we’ll keep an eye on New York and Silicon Valley, too.)

The New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) and five Boston-area VC firms have banded together to organize what they are calling “CriticalMass”—a 2,500-square-foot co-working space for entrepreneurs at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Kendall Square. The participating VCs are Bain Capital Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and North Bridge Venture Partners. (According to a news release going out tomorrow, the five VC firms collectively have 88 investors based in Massachusetts, 130 portfolio companies in New England, and nearly $10 billion under management.)

Startup space at the CIC is hardly a new concept, of course. Neither is co-working space for entrepreneurs. But as far as I know, this is the first arrangement of its kind where a group of Boston-area venture firms are collaborating on a common space. It’s also the latest example of traditional VCs trying to get involved with tech entrepreneurs at the earliest stages—and staking out physical space in Kendall Square, where the startup ecosystem has seen many comings and goings lately.

So, in the months to come, look for more venture capitalists from NEVCA and the above firms to be roaming the proverbial halls of the CIC. Each venture firm will stake out conference-room space to meet with entrepreneurs, and will contribute to mentoring startups in the space more generally. They will also have the option to sponsor office space for some 48 entrepreneurs per year (in total). The CriticalMass space is otherwise open to any entrepreneur for $250 per month. One of the first inhabitants will be Spiros Eliopoulos from Rhode Island-based Tracelytics, who is being sponsored by Flybridge.

The official opening of CriticalMass will be on March 31.

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