February 2, 2023
Business Confidence Slips to Begin 2023
A strong performance by the Massachusetts economy during the fourth quarter of 2022 was not enough to stem…Read More
Posted on December 13, 2022
After Two Years of Muted Celebrations, Holiday Parties are Back
Boston Globe – The real estate firm Redgate chose not to host a holiday celebration in 2021. But 2022 is a different story.
The Boston-based developer picked Woods Hill Pier 4, a swanky seafood restaurant located roughly where the famous Anthony’s once stood on Boston Harbor, to celebrate the season with its 55 employees and their plus-ones earlier this month. All the markers of a typical Christmastime gathering were in place: free drinks, short speeches, and sparkly shirts. Servers passed around popovers and saffron arancini. Dessert? Bite-sized beignets with chocolate sauce.
“Being able to go to a high-quality restaurant and mingle with your colleagues is something people don’t get to do every day,” said Kyle Warwick, a founding principal of Redgate. “A party is the way to demonstrate to our employees that we care, especially considering the past few years.”
Lots of other companies believe so, too. The end of 2022 has been marked by a resurgence of holiday parties after a long pandemic lull. In the past two years, pre-holiday COVID surges prompted the cancellation of many celebrations. Even before the pandemic, December festivities were falling out of favor in part because executives were — and probably still are — concerned about inappropriate conduct brought to light during the #MeToo movement.
Residency Requirements Back on the Table in Boston
Boston Herald – The dual realities of Boston’s sky-high cost of living and an extremely tight labor market have created such a dire hiring situation for the city that, for the first time in years, changes to its longstanding employee residency requirement appear to be back on the bargaining table.
Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration has softened residency in recent months, most recently by quietly implementing a six-month waiver for new police officers. Several unions with open contracts are urging her to go even further with permanent changes reducing the requirement.
Wu and her labor-whisperer, senior adviser Lou Mandarini — who as a contract employee doesn’t currently have to live in the city — are not saying they want to kill the five-decade-old rule. Still, the number of broad temporary waivers over the past few months continues to grow as housing prices rise and City Hall struggles to fill positions throughout Wu’s first year in office.
Wu in a recent interview insisted that the “core requirement of residency” is important to keep the city government connected to the community.
But, she added, “The requirement to live in the city from the very first day that you start receiving pay is very hard for somebody — to have that requirement come first before you’re even getting the salary of the job.”
The mayor, who’s identified difficulty in filling positions as an issue throughout her time in charge, said her office has been “looking at mechanisms to allow a little bit of grace period so that we can still retain residency and have the ability to support people to afford to work in these public-service jobs.”
O Christmas Tree, Why Do You Cost So Very Much?
Boston Globe – Nothing, it seems, will be spared from the fierce plague of inflation — not even that most venerable symbol of the winter holidays, the Christmas tree.
And it’s becoming something of an unwelcome tradition: All things green — balsam and Fraser firs, spruces, and white pines — will cost around 10 percent more this season, according to Tim O’Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association. The supply and demand issues at play in the earlier COVID years are to blame.
Considering that prices of consumer goods overall have risen 7.7 percent in 12 months, the tale of the holiday evergreen is unsurprising. Marsha Gray of the Real Christmas Tree Board put it simply, in a statement: “There are no plot twists in the real Christmas tree story this year.”
But that’s little comfort to people who sell trees, or those who buy them.
Prices for premium trees in particular are well up. Chris Kennedy of Kennedy’s Country Garden in Scituate buys from growers in northern New England and Canada. A tree that in 2020 might have cost him $34 wholesale cost $92 this year. Customers, he said, must bear a portion of that burden.
“What other choice do I have?”
Early Ed on Spilka’s Mond for New Term
State House News – Sen. Karen Spilka is looking forward to reelection as Senate president in January, she said Thursday, and teased early education and care as one priority she hopes will find favor in the 193rd General Court.
The Ashland Democrat told the News Service the new session would “hopefully” bring action on early education and care legislation, a topic the Senate addressed just before formal sessions ended this summer, leaving little time for the House to tackle the bill.
Regarding legislative priorities in the new session, Spilka said, “I hate to keep you in suspense, but on swearing-in day I will hit some of them,” referring to a speech she plans for Jan. 4, which is the day senators will be sworn in and pick their president for the coming term.
From a process standpoint, Spilka made a comparison between early education and mental health.
“Like two sessions ago, we did a strong mental health [bill]. House didn’t take it up. We built on it, and that’s pretty much what we passed. So it gave us an opportunity to make an even stronger bill,” Spilka said, referring to the second go-round for a mental health care bill that was signed into law this summer.
“I sort of look at the same thing with EEC [early education and care]. So that’s exciting,” she said.
Holiday Shopping Scams on the Rise
Boston Globe – A few weeks ago, the chief technology and product officer of Lexington cybersecurity firm Mimecast got an e-mail that appeared to be from Amazon.
It indicated that his order had been delayed because of suspicious activity on his account and asked that he verify his information to get the delivery back on track.
“Nowadays, sending an e-mail to somebody saying your Amazon shipment is held up … it’s really easy to fall for that,” David Raissipour said.
But in fact, the e-mail was an “impersonation scam” from an entity posing as Amazon. “I did not fall for it,” Raissipour said. “But I can promise you some very intelligent people that are in a rush will accidentally fall for it.”
Scammers are increasingly impersonating well-known brands and retailers by setting up lookalike websites. Their goal is to trick people into providing login credentials or credit card information. This type of attack — and the number of people who fall for them — “always spikes at this time of year,” Raissipour said.
“A lot of retail sales happen within this very short period of time. … Consumers are in a hurry,” he said. “It creates a perfect opportunity for the bad guys.”
Greentown Labs chief Emily Reichert steps down
Boston Globe – After spending a decade growing Greentown Labs in Somerville into a world-renowned climate-tech incubator, Emily Reichert has stepped down as CEO of the organization.
Reichert informed Greentown startups on Thursday in an email that “after a ten year sprint building Greentown, now is the right time for me” to step down. Reichert said she doesn’t have an immediate plan for the future but intends to spend more time with family and friends, after taking a sabbatical for several months earlier this year. (She added: “This is especially important to me right now in light of health issues in my family of late.”)
The announcement comes just a week after Prince William and Princess Catherine visited Greentown to much fanfare; Reichert said the visit was a “bittersweet experience” for her because of her pending departure.
Kevin Taylor, Greentown’s chief financial officer, will be interim CEO and will serve in both roles until a permanent CEO is hired. Reichert said she will act as an advisor to Taylor as “CEO Emeritus” until her successor is hired, and that she plans to remain involved with Greentown as a member of its board after that point.
Encore Boston Harbor Awarded Massachusetts’ First Sports Wagering Operator License
WCVB – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said it voted to approve the license following a presentation and review of the casino’s application. Encore officials will still need to obtain a certificate of operations and comply with regulatory conditions before bets can officially begin, the MGC said in a statement.
After years of discussion and jockeying on Beacon Hill, the Legislature passed the bill legalizing sports betting on Aug. 1. Several months of rule writing and application periods followed.
MGC officials previously set a goal to launch retail sports wagering at the state’s three casinos in January. That would allow in-person wagering to begin in time for the Super Bowl, and mobile digital betting is expected to follow in March.
“More information on a universal launch day for retail sports betting will be released in the coming weeks,” officials wrote.
Other applicants in the same category as Encore have not yet received approval. The commission deferred its vote Tuesday on the application from Plainridge Park Casino and postponed a vote Wednesday on MGM Springfield’s application.
Hospital Lobbyists Press Congress to Help Their Struggling Urban Members
Politico – The American Hospital Association is lobbying Congress to create a new designation for hospitals that provide an above-average amount of Medicaid and uncompensated care in a bid to boost those facilities’ flagging finances.
The hospitals want facilities designated Metropolitan Anchor Hospitals to be recognized as essential, likely to eventually get increased reimbursements from the government.
“Given the financial struggle that virtually the entire hospital field is facing right now, we thought it was important to start this dialogue now to make sure that Congress was aware of our ongoing effort to try and create a designation,” said Aimee Kuhlman, AHA’s vice president of federal relations. “[We] fully appreciate that this is an effort that will likely continue on into the next Congress.”
It’s part of a larger effort to get more money for urban hospitals that may be struggling financially, with proponents pointing to recent hospital closures in urban areas that could have benefited from a similar program: Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland.
Health-Care Leaders Identify Problems, Solutions for Healey
Commonwealth Magazine – It’s that time of year again, when advocates gearing up for a shift in state administrations are laying out their policy goals.
The latest report, released Thursday, comes from interviews with a wide range of health care organizations, convened by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, a nonprofit attached to the insurer, and consulting firm Manatt Health. The report, which seeks to set goals for Gov.-elect Maura Healey, highlights some of the biggest issues confronting the health-care industry right now.
“With the new administration taking shape on Beacon Hill, our goal is to encourage action on today’s most pressing health-care challenges,” said Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
Since Massachusetts became the first state to pass a universal health insurance law, the state has led on access, but lagged in affordability with some of the nation’s highest health care costs. Lawmakers and outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker have for years been proposing ways to bring costs down but have failed to reach agreement. Unsurprisingly, affordability is one of five issues flagged by the health care leaders.
Dental Insurance Overhaul Signed into Law by Galvin
MassLive – Dental insurance in Massachusetts could change dramatically in 2024 after Secretary of State William Galvin signed a regulation overhauling premiums into law.
Bay Staters last month overwhelmingly passed Ballot Question 2, which requires dental insurance companies to spend 83% of premiums on patient care, rather than on administrative expenses, taxes or profits. If carriers spend less than 83 cents on every dollar of monthly subscriber premiums — a threshold known as a loss ratio — they must send rebates to insured individuals and groups.
Galvin, joined by members of the Massachusetts Dental Society, on Thursday morning finalized the ballot measure by signing “A Law Relative to Regulation of Dental Insurance.” Galvin’s office described the statute as a “first of its kind,” saying it’s “considered a model for dentist groups nationwide.”
“Today’s certification of the overwhelming victory for patient premium dollars being spent on patient care was made possible thanks to the support from dental teams and consumer advocates here in Massachusetts and across the country,” Dr. Meredith Bailey, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, said in a statement Thursday.
“Together, we proved that we can achieve positive change for the dental profession and the patients we serve. The Massachusetts Dental Society looks forward to working with our partners on Beacon Hill to implement the consumer protections afforded by Question 2.”
Hospitalizations Signal Rising COVID Risks for Seniors
Daily Hampshire Gazette – Coronavirus-related hospital admissions are climbing again in the United States, with older adults a growing share of U.S. deaths and less than half of nursing-home residents up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
These alarming signs portend a difficult winter for seniors, which worries 81-year-old nursing home resident Bartley O’Hara, who said he is “vaccinated up to the eyeballs” and tracks coronavirus hospital trends as they “zoom up” for older adults but remain flat for younger folks.
“The sense of urgency is not universal,” said O’Hara of Washington, D.C. But “if you’re 21, you probably should worry about your granny. We’re all in this together.”
One troubling indicator for seniors: Hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 rose by more than 30% in two weeks. Much of the increase is driven by older people and those with existing health problems, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers include everyone testing positive, no matter the reason they are admitted.
When it comes to protecting seniors, “we’re doing a terrible job of that in this country,” said Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute.
As nursing home leaders redouble efforts to get staff and residents boosted with the new vaccine version, now recommended for those 6 months and older, they face complacency, misinformation and COVID-19 fatigue. They are calling on the White House for help with an “all hands on deck” approach.
Clear messages about what the vaccine can do — and what it can’t — are needed, said Katie Smith Sloan, president of LeadingAge, which represents nonprofit nursing homes.
Massachusetts Fair Share Amendment signed into law
Question 1 Becomes Law
Commonwealth Magazine – The Fair Share Amendment that was approved as Question 1 in the November election has officially been signed into law by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin.
The law will impose a surtax on income more than $1 million in the state and will now be known as Article CXXI of the Articles of Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution.
Along with signing the bill into law, Galvin is asking state lawmakers to establish an education trust fund that will guarantee funds from this new law will go towards education. Part of the text on the amendment proposed in the November election promised part of the funds would be used for public education, so long as there was approval by state legislators.
Question 1 was approved in November with nearly 52% of the votes cast in favor of the amendment. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Galvin is also asking lawmakers to review the law that defines “annual tax income” to exclude one-time profit on home sales if the homeowner is elderly and income-limited. He said the Fair Share Amendment may discourage older homeowners from selling their homes if they are possibly taxed through this new law.
Boston Moving Toward Giving Residents Voice in ‘Participatory Budgeting’
Commonwealth Magazine – When City Councilor Lydia Edwards proposed an amendment last year to the Boston City Charter to reform the city’s budget process, she wanted to shift power out of the hands of the mayor and into the hands of the city council and the people of Boston. She approached the work with a sense of urgency, arguing that new budget rules would make a positive difference in the lives of her constituents.
Along with an expanded role for the City Council in the city’s annual budget process, a key feature of the amendment was the introduction of an approach known as participatory budgeting, which Edwards felt could give a voice to otherwise disenfranchised Bostonians by allowing them to decide how some of the city’s money gets spent.
The charter change was approved by voters in the November 2021 city election. However, Edwards, now a state senator, has distanced herself from the participatory budgeting component of the reform — partly because of the demands of her new job, but also because she has lost faith in the city’s ability to realize her original goals for the program. She is raising questions about a lack of transparency and timeliness in the program’s design stage and asking whether the community advocates involved are capable of creating a program that is truly inclusive of all Bostonians.
With Boston’s Office of Participatory Budgeting set to open in fiscal year 2024, which begins next July, the government officials and community organizations partnering to make the office a reality have yet to agree on some of the most basic details about how it will function — including where it will be located, what rules will govern the process, how much money it will handle each year, and who will run it.
Many in the community remain hopeful that participatory budgeting represents a meaningful step towards direct, equitable democracy for Bostonians. But as details of the policy get hammered out behind closed doors, even advocates of participatory budgeting admit that some of the same interest groups who currently have the ear of the mayor and city council in shaping the program, may be able to wield disproportionate power in a budgeting system meant to open up decision-making to all.
Old Laws Must Adapt to a New Economy
Commonwealth Magazine (Opinion) – I’ve been struggling to find the right metaphor for our current economic situation. After the great recession of 2007-2009, my go-to was a staircase: the recession had knocked us down a flight of stairs and it took us a decade to climb back up.
But that won’t do today. If COVID knocked us down the stairs, our response was to leap – like some superhero – up and out of the building. Only afterwards did we realize we don’t know how to land.
Or how’s this analogy…to avoid a dangerous tangle on the highway, we successfully accelerated around it – only to discover that our brakes aren’t working well.
You get the point. For the first time in decades, the problem with the US economy is that it’s running too hot, with plentiful job opportunities driving unsustainable wage growth and consumer demand keeping inflation above healthy levels.
Fixing all this is mostly a job for the feds. But lawmakers here in Massachusetts have an important role to play: they need to adapt.
To start with a straightforward example, we need to stop looking for policies that will create jobs. That goal is simply futile with the Federal Reserve working hard to slow the job market.
Instead, efforts to help workers and spur economic development should emphasize skill-building and job matching – so that less-educated workers and those held back by discrimination can benefit from the surfeit of opportunities. At the same time, we can help underperforming regions of the state by copying place-based approaches being successfully used in states like California.
Galvin Floats Tweaks to ‘Millionaires Tax’ to Exempt Some Homeowners
Boston Globe – In the first sign that lawmakers may tweak the newly approved ballot measure raising taxes on Massachusetts’ wealthiest residents, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Thursday he intends to file legislation that would exempt some longtime homeowners from paying the surtax when selling their primary house.
Galvin signed the final certification of the constitutional amendment on Thursday, officially increasing the state’s 5 percent income tax rate to 9 percent on annual income exceeding $1 million, as of Jan. 1.
“It’s a justifiable tax,” said Galvin, who voted for the measure. “But we should be considerate to people who are caught up in it.”
Galvin’s proposals mark the first attempt at tweaking the divisive surtax to transform it from concept into practice. Legislative tinkering with ballot measures once they pass is fairly common, but lawmakers have up until now been quiet on what exactly they might do to refine the so-called “millionaires tax.”
The measure is designed to fund education and transportation, and has been projected to raise anywhere from $1.2 to more than $2 billion per year. But the ballot measure, by making the revenue “subject to appropriation,” does not guarantee the Legislature will actually increase spending in those areas, and critics have questioned whether Beacon Hill can be trusted to spend the revenue appropriately.
Tax Relief Plan Likely to Top Healey’s Agenda
Boston Herald – The decision by legislative leaders to punt on a massive tax relief plan gives incoming Democratic Gov. Maura Healey the chance to mark her first notch as the state’s new chief executive with a package of tax cuts.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker initially pitched the tax relief plan, which included $250 per individual tax rebates and a buffet of permanent tax cuts, such as increasing the rental deduction cap, expanding senior circuit breaker tax credits, and overhauling the estate, or “death” tax.
But lawmakers failed to pass the tax relief package with a $4 billion economic development plan before the July 31 end of the formal sessions.
The Legislature ultimately passed a $3.7 million economic development plan, which contained hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, clean energy, health care and the MBTA system, but stripped out the permanent tax relief measures before sending it to Baker for his signature.
Baker urged lawmakers to reconsider the tax relief package before the end of the year, but House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, and Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, said they would be taking it up in the next legislative session.
The move effectively kicked the can down the road to the next governor, who had the time hadn’t been chosen by voters. Now, with Healey set to take the reins of state government next month, she’ll have a chance to come out of the gate with a package of tax cuts for legislative consideration.
Healey, a Democrat who has served as attorney general since 2015, was among those who lamented the omission of tax relief, noting that Bay Staters are feeling the pinch of inflation and rising energy costs while the state is awash in surplus money.
On the campaign trail, she said a tax relief plan would be a “priority” for her administration, citing Baker’s proposal to change the income levels for the estate tax and provide more help to seniors and low- and middle -income renters.
State Launches $50Million Fund to Aid Clean-Energy Startups
WHDH – Clean energy technology companies that have promising products that could help the state meet its decarbonization goals but might not have the capital to make their ideas a reality have a new potential source of funding.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center on Wednesday launched the 2030 Fund, a new $50 million investment vehicle. The fund will provide companies with an average of $500,000 (and up to $1.5 million) in early-stage financing in hopes of attracting additional private capital that will allow the companies to scale up their solutions.
MassCEC said the fund’s investment of $5 million annually “will support momentum of early-stage companies by providing cash runway to help achieve key milestones.”
The fund’s launch “signals to the market that Massachusetts is increasing its committment [sic] to the commercialization of climate technologies,” MassCEC said.
Massachusetts-based startups whose products or services are in line with the definitions of “clean energy” or “clean energy research” are eligible, and MassCEC said that applicants must have three of four business functions (headquarters, primary research and development, primary sales and marketing, and primary manufacturing) located in Massachusetts.
“MassCEC invests impactfully and countercyclically in Massachusetts’ brightest climate technology innovators. Our investments support climatetech companies as they de-risk their technology, reach early commercial milestones, and attract growth funding,” the center said.
Warren Visits Durfee to Announce $14 million in Federal Money for Fall River
Herald News – Sen. Elizabeth Warren was at B.M.C. Durfee High School on Friday touting $14 million in federal funding for the city aimed at offsetting environmental dangers, including lead water pipes and diesel school buses.
“Fall River has had to bear the burden of air pollution and water pollution,” she said.
Warren joined Congressman Jake Auchincloss, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and local elected officials, including state Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Carole Fiola to celebrate what she called “once-in-a-lifetime funding.”
Fall River is set to receive a rebate for up to $3,895,000 to offset the cost of 11 electric school buses and charging infrastructure. Fall River Public Schools uses around 170 buses and vans according to Ken Pacheco, chief operating officer for the district. The move will reduce air pollution from diesel engines and potentially decrease maintenance costs for the district.
And, Fall River has been awarded $10 million through the “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act” to replace both city-owned and private water pipes that contain lead.
EXTERNAL: US to Announce Fusion Energy ‘Breakthrough’
The Washington Post – The Department of Energy plans to announce Tuesday that scientists have been able for the first time to produce a fusion reaction that creates a net energy gain – a major milestone in the decades-long, multibillion-dollar quest to develop a technology that provides unlimited, cheap, clean power.
The aim of fusion research is to replicate the nuclear reaction through which energy is created on the sun. It is a “holy grail” of carbon-free power that scientists have been chasing since the 1950s. It is still at least a decade – maybe decades – away from commercial use, but the latest development is likely to be touted by the Biden administration as an affirmation of a massive investment by the government over the years.
Huge amounts of public and private funds have been funneled into the fusion race worldwide, with the aim of ultimately manufacturing fusion machinery that could bring electricity to the grid with no carbon footprint, no radioactive waste and far fewer resources than it takes to harness solar and wind power. Beyond the climate benefits, promoters say it could help bring cheap electricity to impoverished parts of the world.
“To most of us, this was only a matter of time,” said a senior fusion scientist familiar with the work of the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where the discovery was made.
The development was first reported by the Financial Times on Sunday. It was confirmed by two people familiar with the research, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid getting ahead of the official announcement. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was slated to make the announcement Tuesday at a media event billed as the unveiling of “a major scientific breakthrough.”
The department and the lab declined to comment. A lab official said researchers there are still finalizing their analysis and will not be releasing any official findings before Tuesday.
The science of nuclear fusion relies on smashing two atoms together at incredibly high speeds and transforming the energy from that reaction into electricity that can power homes and offices without emitting carbon into the air or dumping radioactive waste into the environment.
In the decades scientists have been experimenting with fusion reactions, they had not until now been able to create one that produces more energy than it consumes. While the achievement is significant, there are still monumental engineering and scientific challenges ahead.
Creating the net energy gain required engagement of one of the largest lasers in the world, and the resources needed to re-create the reaction on the scale required to make fusion practical for energy production are immense. More importantly, engineers have yet to develop machinery capable of affordably turning that reaction into electricity that can be practically deployed to the power grid.
Building devices that are large enough to create fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily difficult to produce. At the same time, the reaction creates neutrons that put a tremendous amount of stress on the equipment creating it, such that it can get destroyed in the process.
And then there is the question of whether the technology could be perfected in time to make a dent in climate change.
Even so, researchers and investors in fusion technology hailed the breakthrough as an important advancement.
“There is going to be great pride that this is something that happened in the United States,” said David Edelman, who leads policy and global affairs at TAE, a large private fusion energy company. “This is a very important milestone on the road toward fusion energy.”
It comes as the Biden administration is prioritizing fusion energy research in its climate and energy agenda. The projects are among the front of the line for the tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and grants authorized through the major climate package President Joe Biden signed over the summer, called the Inflation Reduction Act.
Over the past several decades, the United States, Russia and various European nations have allocated billions in government dollars trying to master the science, believing that if they could, it would be a boon for the world.
MassVentures Doubles Down on Diverse Founders with $30 Million Fund
Boston Globe – If Massachusetts made a TikTok video on why women and entrepreneurs of color should launch companies in the state, Daniel Pelaez and Elise Strobach could star in that campaign.
I’ve already got the tagline: “Come to school here. Stay to change the world.”
That’s exactly what Pelaez, a 2020 graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Strobach, a 2020 graduate of a doctoral program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are trying to do.
Pelaez is the cofounder and CEO of Cyvl.ai (pronounced “civil.ai”), a Somerville company that uses 3-D software and artificial intelligence to help municipalities manage potholes and other infrastructure projects. Strobach is the cofounder and CEO of AeroShield Materials, a Boston company that uses an innovative material to develop super-insulating windows.
Pelaez and Strobach were among the first three deals that MassVentures, the state’s venture capital arm, recently made out of its new $30 million fund for deep-tech startups with a focus on underserved founders or those based in underserved regions outside the Boston-Cambridge area.