Boston Tech Watch: Robin, Markforged, Air Force AI & CozyKin

The Air Force and MIT partner on AI research. Meeting room tech raises more dough. “Autopilot” for 3D printers. And robot companies teaming up to fill your next ecommerce order. Read on for more of what went down this week in Boston tech news.

—Robin Powered, a Boston startup building workplace desk- and meeting room-booking software, closed a $20 million Series B funding round led by Tola Capital and joined by previous investors Accomplice and FirstMark Capital and new investor Allegion Ventures. Its platform is used by more than 1,300 businesses including DraftKings and HubSpot. Robin says it plans to invest the funds from the round in marketing and sales, hiring, and expanding its Boston headquarters. The company raised a $7 million Series A funding round back in 2016.

—3D printing company Markforged rolled out an artificial intelligence system this week to reprogram and error-correct production from its metal and carbon fiber printers. The system, called Blacksmith and touted as a sort of “autopilot” for manufacturing, creates a continuous feedback loop by scanning pieces in production and auto-adjusting in order for printers to produce more accurate parts. In March, Watertown, MA-based Markforged raised $82 million in a round led by Summit Partners, boosting its total capital raised to $137 million.

—Private equity firm ParkerGale Capital has purchased a majority stake in networked storage company EditShare, as the Watertown, MA-based company also hired former Cisco executive Conrad Clemson to take the helm as chief executive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. EditShare founders Andy Liebman and Tara Montford hold the next largest stake in the company and will stay at the company.

—Two Massachusetts robotics companies focused on logistics are partnering on developing a piece-picking robot for warehouse order fulfillment operations. The partnership includes Locus Robotics, which develops autonomous mobile robots, and RightHand Robotics, which makes a gripper and vision system to grab, move, and place objects. The companies planned to demo the robot at the Manhattan Associates Momentum Conference this week in Phoenix, AZ.

—MIT and the US Air Force are launching an accelerator to boost fundamental advances in AI for operations, disaster response, and medical readiness. The Air Force plans to invest $15 million per year and will support at least 10 MIT projects led by interdisciplinary teams of researchers. Topics for the research will include artificial intelligence, control theory, formal methods, machine learning, robotics, and perception. The accelerator will be a component of the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which is opening in the fall.

—Pliant, a Boston workflow automation startup, has emerged from stealth with $2.5 million in seed funding led by former SevOne executive Vess Bakalov and backed by Newfund Capital, New Stack Ventures, Leading Edge, and other angel and family investors. The company’s website lists it operating out of the WeWork co-working space near Boston’s South Station.

—Childcare startup CozyKin has raised $6 million in a Series A funding round from Bessemer Venture Partners, NextView Ventures, and Primary Venture Partners. The company, which pairs sets of parents with a vetted nanny who cares for both children, is also set to expand into New York City this spring.

—Amastan Technologies, a North Andover, MA-based advanced materials company, has closed an $11 million Series B-2 funding round led by Anzu Partners. Launch Capital, Material Impact, and RKS Ventures also joined the round. Amastan also says it acquired Pennsylvania-based titanium producer AL Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

—Vegetarian meal kit company Purple Carrot says it is being acquired by Japanese organic food delivery service Oisix ra daichi in a deal with potential value of up to $30 million. Oisix will pay $12.8 million up front for the Boston company, and could pay an additional $17.2 million if the business meets certain goals by 2021.

—Pickle Robot has exited stealth and reportedly raised $3.75 million in a seed round led by Hyperplane Venture Capital, according to BostInno. The company recently spun out of research-and-development firm LeafLabs. The startup, which filed paperwork in March saying it had raised $3.5 million, makes a robot, named Dill, that is designed to work alongside humans, loading and unloading trucks, and moving boxes onto and off pallets.

—US-Israeli cybersecurity startup Guardicore is moving its American headquarters from San Francisco to Boston after hiring a Massachusetts marketing executive and raising a $60 million funding round. The Series C funding was led by Qumra Capital and more than doubles its venture haul to $110 million.

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