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The Food Loft seeks to become a hub for Boston's culinary-tech startups

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 18, 2013 08:25 AM

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Boston and Cambridge are now dotted with startup spaces geared to entrepreneurs in big data, videogames, cleantech, and educational technology. The newest one, the Food Loft, aims to provide a home for alimentary innovators. Companies began moving in last month, and the official opening party happens next week.

The force behind the Food Loft is Harvard Common Press, a South End publisher of cookbooks like "A Fistful of Lentils" and "The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook," as well as parenting guides. The first three tenants are Bakepedia, an online resource for bakers; Culture, which publishes a magazine and website about cheese; and Nosh On It, which curates the best recipes from blogs and delivers them in an e-mail newsletter.

The Albany Street space is about 3,500 square feet, with room to grow, says Adam Salamone, associate publisher at the Harvard Common Press. He says that as many as seven more startups could fit in the space. "Itís a bit different than the Cambridge Innovation Center or other similar spaces because we offer each company dedicated work space, rather than an open desk set up," he says. Rents start at about $100-$150 per employee per month, but it varies depending on the tenant's needs, Salamone says.

Salamone describes the Food Loft as "an anchor for food innovation in the Boston area." He has been developing the space along with Bruce Shaw, president and publisher of Harvard Common Press. Shaw has made investments in food-related startups like Yummly, a search engine for recipes, but the goal of the Loft isn't explicitly to source more deals, or provide a home for companies he has invested in. But Salamone says that they are exploring the possibility of "launching a dedicated early-stage food fund that will invest and advocate for food entrepreneurs and innovation."

It'll be interesting to watch as the space ó and possible that new fund ó develops...

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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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