Press Releases
04/19/2010

Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino Launch MassChallenge - World’s Largest Global Startup Competition

MassChallenge confirms $1 million prize pool and issues global call for entrepreneurs to enter with innovative, high-growth startups

Boston - April 14, 2010 - Today, Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined John Harthorne, David Constantine and Akhil Nigam, the founders of MassChallenge, to launch the world’s largest global startup competition. The competition will accelerate the development and success of high-growth, high-impact new businesses, while stimulating job creation across the Commonwealth and beyond.

Awards of up to $1 million will be allocated to the winning teams.  MassChallenge will continue to raise additional funds throughout the competition, and in mid-October, an expert panel will identify a dozen or more teams as winners.  Any startup entrepreneur can enter the MassChallenge competition, with any idea, from anywhere in the world. The actual competition will conduct activities across Massachusetts where innovation resources are most concentrated.  MassChallenge and approximately 100 finalist teams will work from luxury office space on Boston’s waterfront to maximize networking and mentorship opportunities during the intensive accelerator phase of the competition, which runs July to October, 2010.

“Massachusetts is rich with startup companies with innovative ideas and the potential to create long term jobs,” said Governor Patrick.  “The MassChallenge competition will enhance the state’s reputation for innovation, at a time when the Nation’s economy is moving in that direction.”

The Commonwealth has already pledged $500,000 through the collaboration of various aligned quasi-governmental organizations dedicated to bolstering entrepreneurship and innovation to help the non-profit’s founders launch and keep the competition local, while helping to extend its reach world-wide.

Additional funding and support have been secured from multiple sources including Microsoft, the Winvest Group, the Deshpande Foundation, Mass Tech Collaborative, The Fallon Company and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, a recent sponsor whose contribution successfully fulfilled the MassChallenge goal of raising more than $1 million before today’s public launch. Executives representing these various organizations were present at today’s event, which was attended by more than 600 invited guests, including entrepreneurs, investors and innovation leaders.

“What’s exciting about this global competition is that it will attract some of the most talented and risk-taking, innovative entrepreneurs to Boston,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “They’ll join dozens of other innovative companies and thousands of workers already concentrated nearby. We’re creating a hub for knowledge, creativity and inspiration, an Innovation District along Boston’s waterfront where ideas, new businesses and more jobs will come to life.”

Entrants in the competition -- which is currently accepting applications -- will receive professional training and networking support via expert volunteers from partnering organizations throughout the competition’s course. Approximately 100 finalists will receive intensive one-on-one mentoring and free resources including office space at ONE Marina Park Drive, strategic advice and targeted introductions to potential customers and funding sources as they work towards wining the competition. Ultimately, a dozen or more winners will receive cash awards of $50,000 - $100,000 toward launching their high-impact businesses. These MassChallenge grants will be awarded to winners in October 2010.

According to John Harthorne, CEO and Co-Founder of MassChallenge, this global competition is not focused on creating the best business plan, but on creating and building businesses. He described MassChallenge as a competition for the serious entrepreneur seeking access to key resources to facilitate immediate launch and success. The finalist stage is designed as an intensive accelerator program, providing entrants with free resources and unparalleled access to leading innovators in Massachusetts. “We’re thrilled to be launching our competition right here in Massachusetts, home to the strongest innovation ecosystem on the planet,” said Harthorne, who is a 2007 MIT $100K Business Plan Competition winner. “MassChallenge is a collaborative effort involving dozens of organizations all committed to igniting a global, startup renaissance and helping entrepreneurs win. The results of our competition will be immediate and far-reaching.”

Harthorne emphasized that MassChallenge is open to anyone in the world, does not take any equity in entrants or winners and does not apply any restrictions on its winners. Having vetted their model with thousands of entrepreneurial experts, MassChallenge founders are convinced that an open model represents the best opportunity to support and inspire entrepreneurs.

The MassChallenge team also acknowledged the spirit of collaboration they found when they embarked on building the competition here in the Commonwealth. “We can not thank the Governor and the Patrick-Murray Administration enough for seeding this competition, and for all of our sponsors who heard our call and jumped at the chance to be involved,” said Harthorne. “MassChallenge is also extraordinarily grateful to Mayor Menino for his leadership and vision, and for the first-class, luxury office space provided to us by The Fallon Company. This has truly been a collaborative journey.”

With a transportation infrastructure that provides convenient access to innovation and corporate visionaries in downtown Boston, Cambridge and the surrounding communities, it was a natural location for Joe Fallon, President and CEO, The Fallon Company, to offer MassChallenge as their home base for the competition.  “Our new office building - ONE Marina Park Drive- is the perfect backdrop to host this global program and our first-class amenities at Fan Pier will benefit everyone while they harness their abundant supply of ideas and resources into the world’s next big business venture,” said Fallon. “The elements that foster entrepreneurship are all right here.”

Applicants looking to enter the MassChallenge global startup competition should visit www.masschallenge.org as early as possible in order to maximize associated benefits. The deadline for entrant submission is June 11, 2010 and there are certain discounts available for early entry.

Media Contact: 

Steve Pellegrino
Kortenhaus Communications
w. 617-778-5770 / c. 617-688-1040
spellegrino@kortenhaus.com

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