WESTBOROUGH – On Friday, August 21, a panel of expert judges declared CareAline Products of Danvers the winner of the second COVID-19 Intrapreneur Challenge, a competition focused on companies developing innovations that will help Massachusetts in its reopening processes. The Challenge featured pitches from nine established Massachusetts companies, who pitched their designs and business plans aimed at addressing the ongoing public health challenge.
CareAline Products is producing a line of reusable, FDA registered hospital gowns for Level 1 and 2 usage. CareAline received a $25,000 award to support their goal. The reusable nature of the gowns will help reduce the amount of waste generated by the increase in PPE use during the pandemic. The company has also begun production of a line of masks.
“We are honored to have won the second COVID-19 Intrapreneur Challenge,” said Kezia Fitzgerald, co-founder of CareAline Products. “There were so many great ideas presented during this competition and we are truly humbled to have been selected as the winner. Innovating our gowns and masks has opened our eyes to more ways we can help during COVID-19 and beyond.”
The inaugural Intrapreneur Challenge is part of a series of competitions supported by a grant from the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the public agency managing the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT). Additional Challenges will focus on other products and services necessary to support a healthy and safe reopening of the economy during the pandemic and beyond.
“The Baker-Polito Administration was thoroughly impressed by all of the innovative products and solutions presented at this Challenge,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “The ingenuity and creativity of the Commonwealth’s manufacturing sector is vital to our effort to strengthen the state’s economy and stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”
Launched in early June, the Intrapreneur Challenge program is being managed by Lever, a North Adams-based business accelerator and innovation support organization. While most challenges are focused on early-stage entrepreneurs, Lever has pioneered a unique approach to supporting innovation at more mature companies. By working with product development staff at these established firms, the intrapreneurs, participants were able to "innovate from within" and to spark the type of leadership, innovation, and creativity typically associated with nimble startups.
“We congratulate CareAline Products for their winning proposal and thank all of the participants that took part in the first COVID-19 Intrapreneur Challenge,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “At MassTech, we are proud to support and fund programs like the Intrapreneur Challenge that support the state’s manufacturing and innovation economy.”
To support its economic development mission, Lever has produced Challenges since it was founded in 2014 and worked with scores of innovators across many sectors.
“The finalists in our second Challenge presented unique and innovative ideas to help Massachusetts companies reopen for business,” said Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas. “This is a special group of Intrapreneurs and we are impressed by their desire to help others across the state.”
Zoe Grant from Pyxis Global of Lawrence was the first runner up in the Challenge. The other finalists in the competition included:
- Julee Clement, Phillips Enterprises Inc., Northampton
- Deanna Junge, Landmark Finish, Inc., Andover
- Elizabeth Nelson, Northeast Biomedical, Tyngsborough
- Wayne Newton, TrueBounce Inc., New Bedford
- Armando Paredes, Quanta collaboration, Somerville
- Bill Sullivan, Flexcon, Spencer
- Joel Weitzman, Shear Color Printing, Inc., Woburn
While most challenges focus on early-stage entrepreneurs, Lever has pioneered a unique approach to supporting innovation at more mature companies. By working with product development staff at established firms, the intrapreneurs, participants were able to "innovate from within" and to spark the type of leadership, innovation, and creativity typically associated with nimble startups. Lever worked with these intrapreneurs to optimize product-market fit, build a solid business plan, and develop robust go-to-market strategies over the five-week program.
For more information, visit https://innovation.masstech.org/intrapreneur
About the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
The MassTech Collaborative is a quasi-public economic development agency that strengthens the competitiveness of the tech and innovation economy by driving strategic investments, partnerships, and insights that harness the talent of Massachusetts. The Innovation Institute is the division of MassTech that advances its core mission of innovation and cluster growth across the Commonwealth. Created in 2003, the Innovation Institute intervenes in the economy in the following four ways:
- Conducts research and analysis that improves the state’s understandings of unmet needs and opportunities in the innovation economy;
- Serves as convener and key strategic broker on the landscape;
- Manages high-value projects on behalf of the Commonwealth; and
- Makes strategic investments in support of innovation-based economic development.
For more information, visit https://innovation.masstech.org/.
Founded in 2014, Lever is an economic development non-profit focused on innovation-driven job creation. Lever supports entrepreneurs with startup expertise, an investment fund, research, mentors, and access to talent. Lever has helped launch dozens of companies that have attracted more than $10M in equity investment and have created more than 200 jobs. Lever supports existing companies by helping their intrapreneurs “innovate from within” using proven entrepreneurial methods for top-line revenue growth and job creation. Since 2018, Lever has produced 11 Challenges in health technology and COVID response, awarding more than $400,000 in grants to Challenge winners. Lever's 2020-2021 COVID Challenge series, developed in partnership with MassTech, helped dozens of mature Massachusetts companies pivot to PPE production and helped six startups develop innovations to support COVID recovery. Learn more at www.leverinc.org.