WESTBOROUGH – On Friday, October 30th, a panel of expert judges declared Industrial Polymers and Chemicals of Shrewsbury the winner of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Health & Safety Challenge, a competition focused on developing innovations that will help Massachusetts slow the spread of COVID-19. The Challenge featured pitches from executives at eight established Massachusetts companies, who pitched their designs and business plans aimed at addressing the ongoing public health challenge. Watch the official announcement of the award on YouTube.
Industrial Polymers and Chemicals' new VISTAT filter system provides a low-cost, ease of use, drop-in solution for HVAC units to improve the safety and quality of circulated air within offices and schools. The VISTAT family of HVAC filters provide micron and sub-micron filtration that remove air borne pathogens like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so excited to win this great competition,” said Thomas Kennedy Chief Technical Officer of Industrial Polymers and Chemicals. “There were so many great ideas presented during the Massachusetts COVID-19 Health & Safety Challenge and it was an honor just to compete, let alone win. We’re an old line manufacturing company, just gritting it out every day so to win this means a lot to us.”
Phillips Enterprises of Northampton was the first runner up in the Challenge, which is the third in 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).
“At MassTech, we are proud to support and fund programs like this series of Challenges that support the state’s economy. Every single participant in the Challenges is a winner because they are helping us stay safe and stop the spread,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Today we congratulate Industrial Polymers and Chemicals of Shrewsbury on their grand prize win for their HVAC filter design.”
Launched in early June, the Challenge series is 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, or intrapreneurs, participants were able to "innovate from within" to spark the type of leadership, innovation, and creativity typically associated with nimble startups.
“Our third Challenge was a very creative group,” said Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas. “Every time we assemble a group of Massachusetts innovators I am blown away at the solutions and ideas they come up with to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The ideas developed during this Challenge will help businesses and keep people safe.”
The other finalists in the Challenge included:
- EndoSIM, Bolton, Mass.;
- FLEXcon, Spencer, Mass.;
- Northeast Biomedical, Tyngsboro, Mass.;
- Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling, Southampton, Mass.;
- Radio Robots, Sudbury, Mass.; and
- Zeptive, Inc., Burlington, Mass.
Including this third Challenge, thirty Massachusetts manufacturers have participated in the series, advancing the production of ‘Made in Massachusetts’ products to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Speakeasy Travel Supply of Barnstable and CareAline Products of Danvers won the first and second Challenges, which were completed earlier this summer.
The fourth and final competition in the series will be announced in January and open to entrepreneurs with tech and innovation solutions to spark economic recovery.
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.