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Former E Ink chief executive Russ Wilcox joins board at Harvest Automation, details angel investments

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 3, 2012 10:00 AM

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Russ Wilcox has been busy, both personally and professionally, since he left the Cambridge display-maker E Ink in 2010. E Ink had helped to pioneer the market for e-books with paper-like displays that consumed very little power. It was acquired by a Taiwanese company, Prime View, in 2009.

First, Wilcox took his family on a year-long trip around the world, which ended last July.

Now, Wilcox, who helped start E Ink back in 1997, is once again getting plugged in to Boston's startup scene. Harvest Automation is announcing today that Wilcox will join its board; Harvest makes robots that move potted plants around at nurseries. (I last wrote about the company in November, when Harvest raised $7.8 million from investors.) Harvest is "poised for an exciting product launch and sales growth," Wilcox writes via e-mail. "As a director I hope to actively share the operating lessons we learned at E Ink."

Wilcox tells me he's hoping to start a new venture in the energy sector, and he has also been making a string of angel investments. (You can find him on AngelList.) They include:

  • PowerInbox, trying to make the inbox more interactive (I wrote about them here recently)
  • Calimmune, working to "engineer immunity" to patients with HIV
  • DriveFactor, collecting data about how you actually drive.
  • Imprint Energy, working on flexible, low-cost, rechargeable "zinc poly" batteries.
  • AmberWave, a materials company working on new solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductors.
  • Gen9, building the first "fab" for synthetic biology, enabling low-cost production of custom genes.

That last one was co-founded by Joe Jacobson, an MIT Media Lab prof who was also a co-founder of E Ink with Wilcox.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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