WESTBOROUGH – On Friday, April 9th, 2021, a panel of expert judges declared Keva Health of Lexington the winner of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Connect Tech Innovation Challenge, a competition focused on entrepreneurs and startups working on innovative solutions to enhance resiliency and guard against potential future disruptions in industries like ecommerce, manufacturing, digital health, FinTech, and EdTech.
Keva Health, developers of a remote monitoring platform to help physicians treating asthma patients and an app for patients to better manage their condition, was awarded $40,000 to continue developing their business. Thrive Community of Boston, developers of software to help family caregivers stay better connected with their loved ones, was selected as the runner-up and will receive the $10,000 second place prize.
“We learned a lot from the organizers and our fellow participants in the COVID-19 Connect Tech Challenge, so to come out of this competition as the winner is a great honor to us and our company,” said Jyotsna Mehta of Keva Health. “This award sets us up to better help those managing respiratory conditions, not just in Massachusetts, but across the country and world.”
Keva Health is also a participant in the Massachusetts Digital Health Sandbox program, aimed at helping Massachusetts healthcare technology startups test and validate their products. Keva has worked with the TechSpring innovation center at Baystate Health in Springfield, where they are piloting a project with asthma patients in the Baystate system.
The winning companies were announced by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, highlighting the importance of innovation as Massachusetts recovers from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“In the year since the launch of the COVID-19 Challenge series, we’ve been overwhelmed by the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that make Massachusetts a global leader in innovation and technology,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Kennealy. “The Baker-Polito Administration has been a proud supporter of the Challenge series, and we applaud all of the participants and winners who are illustrative of the strength and dynamism of the Commonwealth’s science and technology sectors.”
Launched in June 2020, the Challenge series builds on the successes of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT), which was tasked with supporting the Commonwealth’s manufacturers as they pivoted their operations to produce PPE and other critical items in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Challenge series competitions are managed by Lever, a North Adams-based startup accelerator and innovation network, and are funded through a $250,000 grant from the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state agency that also manages the MERT.
“Programs like the COVID-19 Challenge series are a key part of MassTech’s mission to support tech and innovation in Massachusetts,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “The MERT was a direct response in the early days of the pandemic, which led to the launch of the Challenge program as a way to get more homegrown companies producing innovative, solution-focused products.”
“I was thoroughly impressed by our finalists throughout Lever’s accelerated program, and their pitches reflect the incredibly innovative work they’re doing,” said Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas. “The Lever team has enjoyed working with so many innovators since we began working with MassTech on the COVID-19 Challenge series in 2020. We’re already seeing some of their products and services getting strong traction in the market.”
Profiles of the six finalists can be found on Lever’s website.
In addition to Keva Health and Thrive Community, the four other finalists included:
- Omnistrat, Concord;
- Edgi Learning, Stockbridge;
- Outside Interactive, Hopkinton; and
- Polis, Cambridge.
In total, 36 Massachusetts manufacturers participated in the Challenge series since its launch in June 2020, advancing the production of “Made in Massachusetts” products to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Winners of the first three Challenges included:
- Speakeasy Travel Supply of Barnstable, which won the first Challenge with their innovative face mask design.
- CareAline Products of Danvers won the second Challenge with their reusable hospital gown design; and
- Industrial Polymers and Chemicals of Shrewsbury won the third Challenge with their drop-in HVAC filter system.
Details on all the Challenges can be found on the Innovation Institute program page.
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.