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October 24th, 2011
BICEP is the Boston Institute for Clean Energy Prototyping.
It’s run by me, Ethan Labowitz. My goal is clear: I want to make Boston a world class city for clean energy prototyping. A world class city has the resources and knowledge to build the most high quality prototypes the fastest, for the least amount of money, and with the fewest errors. While Boston has great engineering talent, many of young engineers lack experience in actually building effective, low-cost prototypes.
What is BICEP’s goal?
Make Boston the best place in the country to prototype a clean energy product. Simple.
What specifically will BICEP do to complete this goal?
BICEP will work to quantifiably decrease prototyping time and costs by offering shop training, reduced rate fabrication and consulting services, and free office hours.
Why is BICEP’s mission important?
The more prototypes that are built and tested, the greater likelihood of building a product that will sell. Products that sell create companies. If the company builds their prototype in Boston, they are likely to stay in Boston.
What is the problem with Boston right now?
While Boston produces a high number of engineers, few recent graduates have any of the hands-on experience needed to build a prototype. This often causes them to make simple, yet costly mistakes and use private contractors that are not experienced in clean energy prototyping. Experienced engineers are too expensive for young companies with no revenue.
What is BICEP’s solution?
1 – Offer discounted shop services that are subsidized from donations. BICEP will become a 501c3 and accept donations and grants from organizations and government agencies that see the value in Boston becoming a cleantech prototyping hub.
2 – Offer open office hours, so any cash-strapped startup can get valuable prototyping advice on a first-come, first-served basis.
3 – Cleantech Prototyping Academy – BICEP will host short, intensive workshops for students and professionals who are interested in the space but lack hands-on knowledge.
4 – Be a non-profit. Being a non-profit is key to success because it will allow BICEP to be more transparent and share lessons learned from prototype to prototype. By not making the same mistakes twice, BICEP will be able to further bring down the costs and time to build prototypes.
What is BICEP’s business model?
All businesses, whether non-profit or for profit, must make money in order to succeed. Here’s how BICEP will make money:
1 – Charge money for workshops
2 – Charge money for shop services
3 – Accept donations from organizations, foundation, government and private companies that understand the benefit of building quality prototypes
What is BICEP working on RIGHT now and how can I help?
1 – Building a shop
2 – Schedule office hours
3 – Creating relationships and schedule for Cleantech Prototyping Academy.
If you’d like to help with any of these initiatives or keep up to dates with BICEP’s status, let me know:
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