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MassChallenge Opens Application

Startup Accelerator Announces Global Expansion to Israel

Metro Editor

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 23:02

MassChallenge, the largest startup accelerator in the world, announced its plans to expand to Israel last week as the company opened its application for the 2013 competition. Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, partook in MassChallenge’s Opening Day ceremony, announcing he will fund the expansion to Israel during his keynote speech. Kraft has signed a four-year commitment with the acceleration company to replicate their program overseas. According to a press release by MassChallenge, the expansion will encourage “expert partners to identify the most promising Israeli startups and help them access key customers and resources in the U.S. market via a specialized program within the MassChallenge accelerator.”

The company geared toward start-ups is also hoping to ‘start up’ somewhere else: outer space. MassChallenge has recently confirmed a partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to begin testing startups for efficiency to work in the International Space Station. In addition to this facilitation, CASIS has offered a new $100,000 prize in the MassChallenge competition for Technology in Space.

In addition to launching programs in Israel, MassChallenge is in the process of expanding to Colombia, Mexico, and the Russian Federation. In order to accelerate the growing startup sensations in those regions, MassChallenge has facilitated “strategic partnerships” to bring in local entrepreneurs. This expansion will implement the company’s first actions toward global expansion.

Each year, the accelerator selects between 100 and 125 startup companies to compete in their accelerator program. The 2013 application for the competition, set to begin in June, went live last Wednesday, Feb. 13. Those accepted into the four-month accelerator program will be provided with 27,000 square feet of office space, access to the best market and media resources, and experts in the professional field—all in the city of Boston. Through MassChallenge, over 300 mentors will be available to the startups, although no money will be given to any startup until the awards ceremony in October. As a non-profit organization, MassChallenge accepts no equity and therefore holds no restrictions on the entrepreneurs entering their competition.

At the end of their four-month accelerator program, MassChallenge awards $1 million in grants to the competition’s top 10-20 companies, in amounts of either $50,000 or $100,000. With the mission to “Catalyze a start-up renaissance,” MassChallenge accepts applications from any startup in any industry from anywhere in the world.

The 2012 competition saw over 1,300 applicants, a large increase from their 446 applications for the initial MassChallenge accelerator program just four short years ago. When not hosting their accelerator competition, MassChallenge provides a number of events throughout the year geared toward young entrepreneurs. Although the majority of participants in the competition are older than college age students, these events provide a venue for budding startups to make the connections necessary for success in the university business realm.

NBD Nanotechnologies, a startup company named a 2012 MassChallenge finalist, uses biotechnology to enhance water condensation, collecting water from the most arid environments in the world. Two of the four co-founders of NBD Technologies graduated from Boston College, with Miguel Galvez and Deckard Sorenson, both BC ’12, having entered NBD Nanotechnologies in the MassChallenge competition during their senior year. According to Galvez, the accelerator met the needs of their college startup, providing the founders with office space, legal advice, and connections to future investors. When asked for his reflections on his relations with MassChallenge, Galvez said, “I think MassChallenge is effective in stimulating growth of companies. By creating a large class of 100 companies, there is a lot of room to get feedback for your project and get important resources for your company. It also motivates founders to work hard and know that they are not alone in their struggles or triumphs.”

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