Governor Charlie Baker Addresses MassChallenge gathering. (Photo by Mark Steffen)
Boston’s Innovation District was abuzz this week as several hundred entrepreneurs, business leaders and public officials attended the launch of the 6th MassChallenge Startup Accelerator competition. This year’s announcement took place simultaneously in Boston, Jerusalem and London, which officials say is an indication of Massachusetts’ success in exporting innovative ideas.
Billed as the world’s largest accelerator, the MassChallenge program selects about 200 startups each year to participate in four-month accelerators in Boston and London, where they receive a variety of support, ranging from free resources and office space to mentorship and access to global networks. A final group of finalists also compete for millions of dollars in cash awards to help build their companies.
According to MassChallenge, anyone with an early-stage startup can apply for the awards, from any industry and from anywhere in the world. MassChallenge does not take equity or place any restrictions on the startups it supports. Applications for these programs are open from February 11 through April 1, 2015. Entrepreneurs can apply here.
In Boston, Governor Charlie Baker delivered a keynote at MassChallenge headquarters, expressing ongoing support for entrepreneurship in Massachusetts and praising MassChallenge as a global leader of innovation-driven economic development.
“As a massive engine of job creation and economic growth, entrepreneurship makes Massachusetts great,” Baker said. “MassChallenge has an outstanding track record of attracting great startups and talent to the Commonwealth,” adding that the UK and Israel affiliates offer “proof that Massachusetts’ own unique brand of innovation is the standard for helping entrepreneurs launch and grow all over the world.”
MassChallenge CEO John Harthorne said the concurrent launch in three cities “demonstrates the potential for our international network,” adding that “more entrepreneurs will gain access to the resources they need, with no equity taken.”
Scott Bailey, managing director of MassChallenge Boston, announced several new initiatives, including alumni, industry and international committees to provide value to MassChallenge programs. And he welcomed several new MassChallenge sponsors, including Bühler, PepsiCo, Bose, Boehringer Ingelheim, Aetna, and Smith & Nephew.
And finally, MassDevelopment is supporting the imminent launch of MADE@ MassChallenge, a makerspace for current and former start-up clients of MassChallenge. Slated to open March 10, 2015, the 5,000 square foot space with hardware and prototyping capabilities will provide entrepreneurs with expert training, equipment and office spaces with no equity taken.
“MassDevelopment is thrilled to announce a grant of $200,000 to help to launch MADE@MassChallenge,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “This funding will stimulate innovation by early-stage entrepreneurs and build on the partnerships between entrepreneurial companies and manufacturers in Massachusetts.”
Find out more about MassChallenge here.