Massachusetts Manufacturers Wanted: COVID-19 Health & Safety Challenge

Monday, August 17, 2020

Massachusetts Manufacturers Wanted:

‘COVID-19 Health & Safety Challenge’ Launches to Grow Innovations to Slow the Spread

Third Challenge in State-Funded Program to Identify and Support Next-Level Innovations 

WESTBOROUGH — The Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Lever, Inc., have announced the ‘COVID-19 Health & Safety Challenge,’ the third in a series of innovation pitch competitions to identify and grow innovative solutions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Health & Safety Challenge will identify and select established Massachusetts companies to participate in a five-week accelerator that will help them grow next-level innovations that support the health and safety of businesses, communities, and people across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Challenge opened Monday, August 17th, with final submissions due by Friday, September 18th. Finalists will be selected by September 25th, 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 October 30th with a virtual pitch event and a $25,000 prize awarded to the winner, funding which will help kick start the commercial development of their products or services.

Interested companies can apply at https://innovation.masstech.org/intrapreneur.

The Challenge programs 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).

Types of innovations sought for this Challenge include, but are not limited to:

  • UV disinfecting technology;
  • Air purification & ventilation technology; 
  • Sanitization tunnels/booths;
  • Smart fabrics;
  • Innovations for restaurants and offices;
  • Touchless payment technology;
  • Touchless door openers, elevator panels, etc.;
  • Social distancing monitors; or
  • Any innovation that can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Participating companies must:

  • Be headquartered in Massachusetts;
  • Develop innovations that will preserve or create Massachusetts jobs;
  • Have been in business for at least two years; and
  • Have 2019 annual revenues greater than $250,000.

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 winner of the first Challenge, Speakeasy Travel of Cape Cod, won $25,000 to develop a general-use facemask. Companies in the second Challenge, which will wrap up August 21st, are developing a range of innovative products and services to help reopen the economy,

The Challenge programs launched in early June, build 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 5.5 million individual pieces of PPE.

For more information, visit https://innovation.masstech.org/intrapreneur

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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.

About Lever, Inc.

Founded in 2014, Lever’s mission is to develop a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Berkshire region. It supports entrepreneurs with expertise, work space, an investment fund, research, mentors, and access to talent. Lever has helped launch dozens of companies that have attracted more than $7M in equity investment. To date, Lever-supported companies have created more than 150 jobs. Lever’s intern program has placed more than 115 college students in paid internships at Berkshire County companies, many of whom have gone on to enter the permanent workforce here.