Innovators grow community
Dorchester incubator and co-working space expands
The Fairmount Innovation Lab (FIL) celebrated the grand re-opening of their newly expanded co-working space last Wednesday evening in Uphams Corner.
The event was also a gathering for the lab team, their supporters and community members to honor the late Liora Beer, the founder of FIL, who passed away in March.
“This space will allow us to better serve our growing co-working community,” said Anuradha Yadav, interim director of FIL.
The expansion on the second floor of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation office building converted the 2,000-square-foot space into a 2,900-square-foot lab, with additional facilities for a rotating art gallery, event space and co-working space for 51 creative entrepreneurs.
According to Yadav, the expansion was funded with support from MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ economic development and finance authority, through a Collaborative Workspace Grant.
The lab opened in 2015 offering memberships for local art and social entrepreneurs that include free legal assistance, networking, business training, marketing services and co-working space.
In addition, the FIL Launchpad, a 12-week accelerator program for early stage startups, provides 25 entrepreneurs with mentorship, business education and peer-to-peer networking.
Amir Dixon, founder and creative director of visual design firm Amir Now, Inc. (ANI), told the Banner at the lab’s re-opening that FIL startups and co-working members all have their creative lens set to solve social and economic equity issues.
“We’re a community of creators who push each other,” he said. “To address injustice, it requires building our businesses and providing jobs and training to our community.”
Insa Elliott, founder of Market 2Day, spoke at the grand re-opening event, recalling her experience as part of the FIL Launchpad’s winter 2018 cohort.
“I got inspiration working with people who had a vision for their incredibly creative and meaningful ventures. That led me to work harder on what I was working on,” she said.
At the grand re-opening, Marea Parker, board president of Artmorpheus, announced the creation of the Liora Beer Scholarship. Artmorpheus is an artist-driven nonprofit also founded by Liora Beer.
Yadav told the Banner that the scholarship, honoring the legacy of Liora Beer, will be offered to two people, an artist and a creative entrepreneur, beginning in 2019. Scholarship recipients will receive technical assistance, business support and event space for exhibitions.
More details and the application process for the scholarship will be announced in the coming weeks.
David Weingarten, who was Beer’s husband, spoke at the event.
“If you’re a recipient of a Liora Beer Scholarship for an entrepreneur in the arts, take chances, embrace risk, grow your ideas, love your community, help the people around you, fight hard and have fun,” he said.
Weingarten spoke about why Beer created the Fairmount Innovation Lab. “Her idea was to bring resources to local people who are talented, smart, hardworking but maybe didn’t have a perfectly formed idea of what they wanted to do.” He added, “Or maybe they had an idea of what they wanted to do but not what they could do.”
Dixon recalled the first time he met Beer, when he became a member of FIL about a year ago. “I talked to her about my vision, and I will never ever forget it. She asked me, ‘How do you aim to bring your creative skills to impact your community?’ And I will always be grateful for that conversation.”
Marcelous Atmore, founder of Express Cuts 10.18, was a summer 2017 Launchpad cohort participant. His company connects local barbers with clients through a mobile application platform. He was interviewed by Beer when he applied to the Launchpad program.
“She was looking for something more artsy, but she believed in what I was doing. And then all these resources became available to me that I was [previously] finding hard to get a hold of,” said Atmore.
With future programming and bigger space, the Fairmount Innovation Lab aims to be “a hub for the local creative economy,” said Yadav.
For more information about the lab, visit: http://fil594.org