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Somerville = Innovationville?

We all know that Cambridge is a hub of innovation, and Kendall Square may well be “the most innovative square mile on the planet,” as its local business association claims, but… Somerville houses some great innovation centers as well, and companies born there are bringing well-deserved attention to Cambrideville’s other half.

This week I had the pleasure of joining the Cambridge & Somerville Chambers of Commerce to tour two great new innovation spaces in Union Square — Artisan’s Asylum and Brooklyn Boulders.

Artisan’s Asylum is 40,000 sf of shared use space for artisans, builders, and all sorts of creative maker-types. The AA offers private work studios, common work and lounge areas, use of amazing equipment ranging from massive drills and welding tools to 3-D printers, and classes for the public. Here are some pix from the tour:

I love the sign on this 3-D printer.

View down one of the aisles.

And scooters to make getting down those long aisles easier!

Brooklyn Boulders is a rock climbing gym with an innovative surprise inside — a satellite office of Kendall’s own Cambridge Innovation Center. As described on its website, BKB is “a new type of curated community space anchored by 38,000 square feet of sophisticated, challenging climbing terrain augmented by art, culture, music and entrepreneurship.” Here are a couple pix from my visit:

Congessman Mike Capuano speaking to our group. The mezzanine space we’re standing in will soon be home to CIC.

View from the mezzanine looking down at one of the climbing walls — check out the high-tech pulleys which allow you to climb without a belay-er (is that a word?).

Soon to move in next door to Brooklyn Boulders and Artisan’s Asylum is Greentown Labs — a shared space for clean technology companies. Here’s a look at the plans for the space:

And I couldn’t end this piece without including a link to the cool piece written in the Globe recognizing that innovation also comes in the form of non-tech startups, featuring Somerville’s own Cuppow!


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