Lighting and home automation giant Lutron sets up shop in Kendall Square

Rendering courtesy Lutron Electronics.
Rendering courtesy Lutron Electronics.

The Dutch company Royal Philips announced earlier this week that it would plunk a research lab in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, focused on lighting and health care technology. But another lighting company, Pennsylvania-based Lutron Electronics, quietly opened a small engineering office in Kendall in recent months without issuing a press release.

The Lutron outpost is new enough that it isn’t yet listed on the company’s website.

Why Cambridge? Lutron co-chairman Susan Hakkarainen is an MIT alumna — she earned a PhD in nuclear engineering from the school in 1989. Via e-mail, Hakkarainen explains that the new location is “an engineering office where we’ll be working on cutting-edge technology in the areas of lighting control and the Internet of Things.” (Hakkarainen is the daughter of Lutron’s founder, Joel Spira, who died earlier this year at age 88.)

Lutron is best known for introducing the dimmer switch into American homes; the company also makes products like window shades that open or close based on the brightness outside.

The company leased a 5,000-square foot office at One Main Street, which could house 50 or more employees, depending on how the space is used. (The company declined to comment on the number of employees already there, but Lutron employs more than 1,000 people worldwide.) Job listings show that privately-held Lutron is still trying to staff up.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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