New Accelerator Aims to Boost ‘Made in Mass.’ Products that Support Re-opening
Seeks Established Manufacturers for Second ‘Intrapreneur Challenge’
WESTBOROUGH, MA – The Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Lever have announced the second COVID-19 Intrapreneur Challenge to identify and mentor innovative Massachusetts companies interested in developing a product or service to support Phase 2 of the state’s re-opening. The Intrapreneur Challenge is a five-part business accelerator program that aims to activate, connect, and focus Massachusetts companies as they pivot production capabilities to meet the emerging needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second Intrapreneur Challenge will select established Massachusetts companies to participate in a five-week accelerator that will help them expand commercial development of their products or services to support the state’s Phase 2 re-opening. The Challenge is seeking companies interested in manufacturing products that enhance sanitation, promote safety, offer touchless payment, or technologies that monitor or promote social distancing.
The Intrapreneur Challenges 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 Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT).
The second round of the Challenge opened Monday, June 29th, with final submissions due by Friday, July 10th. Finalists will be selected by July 17th, with priority given to companies that have the potential to deliver solutions at scale in a short period of time. The five-week program will culminate on August 21st with a virtual pitch event and a $25,000 prize awarded to the winner of Challenge #2, funding which will help kick start the commercial development of their products or services.
Interested companies can apply at https://innovation.masstech.org/intrapreneur. Participating companies must:
- Be based in Massachusetts;
- In business for at least two years; and
- Have annual revenues greater than $250,000 per year.
Lever will utilize their unique approach to supporting innovation at mature companies, working with ‘intrapreneurs’ at chosen firms to spark the type of leadership, innovation, and creativity typically associated with nimble startups, allowing established firms to "innovate from within." Challenge finalists will be matched with appropriate innovation centers, experts, and mentors to help them develop and deliver products that meet COVID-19 requirements and regulations.
The Intrapreneur Challenge, launched in early June, builds off of the success of the Massachusetts MERT program, a coordinated effort comprised of members from academia, industry, and government that is addressing the urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical items the Commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since March, the MERT has helped over 50 companies pivot their manufacturing operations to produce critical products, an effort that has helped produce over 4 million individual pieces of PPE.
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.
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 to generate top-line revenue growth and job creation.
Brian H. Noyes
Director of Communications and Marketing