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From the Hive

Innovation facility may be late, but it’s cool

Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.

District Hall is officially open. Finally.

Several events last week helped christen the $7 million facility, whose coffee shop, restaurant, and meeting and event space are designed to make it the centerpiece of Boston’s Innovation District — though, technically, it doesn’t begin full operations until next month.

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It’s hard to resist poking fun at the long launch, but it’s also hard to deny the place is cool.

Reporters and invited guests got a preview Wednesday, and most of us could easily envision the 12,000-square-foot, industrial-chic building fulfilling its mission to be a shared resource for the innovation community.

In some ways, the communal vibe resembles the feel of the Cambridge Innovation Center, which makes sense, since Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino tapped the center’s founder, Tim Rowe, to start District Hall.

The CIC’s nonprofit arm, Venture Café Foundation, will run day-to-day business, with executive director Carlos Martinez-Vela leading the way.

But unlike the Cambridge Innovation Center, which hundreds of start-ups call home base, District Hall will have no permanent residents, besides Gather, the restaurant, and Brew, the coffee shop, which also serves beer and wine. Both are owned by Briar Group, of Brighton, and the tasty hors d’oeuvres their kitchen put out Wednesday suggest they could become hot spots in no time.

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Instead, the city will make District Hall available to local businesses, schools, and civic groups in need of space for meetings and special events. Martinez-Vela said rental fees will be adjusted according to a group’s means, with the aim of making the building accessible to everyone.

“If you’re a big company and we know you can pay, of course we’re going to ask you to pay,” he explained. “But if you have no money, we’ll work something out. The idea is to have the top 30 percent underwrite the other 70 percent.”

The city can afford to be generous because its own lease on the building is just $1 per year, thanks to an agreement with Boston Global Investors, which built District Hall as part of the 23-acre Seaport Square construction project.

So the price is right, but organizations hoping to use District Hall should think about booking fast. Martinez-Vela said the facility is already getting requests for holiday parties.

Callum Borchers

3-D printer lures more money

Formlabs, the Somerville start-up that ran a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign last fall for a new 3-D printer, has banked about $19 million in new funding from investors, including DFJ Growth and Pitango Venture Capital.

Formlabs said it has shipped 900 of its Form1 printers, which sell for $3,300. They use a Blu-ray laser to transform a light-sensitive resin into three-dimensional objects.

The company said it will use the funding for hiring in Somerville and to expand its international marketing and customer support.

Scott Kirsner

Sporty rides

Not that this should surprise any sports-crazed local, but Hailo, a company that uses smartphones to dispatch cabs in Boston, said its data show that pennant fever truly gripped the Hub last month:

Hailo, the taxi app, was launched in 2011.

Hailo, the taxi app, was launched in 2011.

The most requested destinations for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights were neighborhoods known for sports bars.

And not just those around Fenway Park. Another popular locale was the stretch of Boylston Street where bars with large-screen TVs are chock-a-block.

“This data is a compelling look at where Bostonians are spending their nights out and about,” said Vanessa Kafka, general manager of Hailo Boston.

Launched in 2011, Hailo is available in several cities, including London, New York, Dublin, Chicago, and Washington.

Chris Reidy

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