Mass. launches start-up challenge

Massachusetts has launched the second round of MassChallenge the world’s largest global start-up competition. The challenge will go forward with the support of the Governor’s Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Economy Partnership Mission, which has pledged $1 million over the next four years to the innovative program. Last year’s challenge gave support to 111 startups, created 300 new jobs and raised $30 million in outside funding. MassChallenge has also been invited by President Obama to be the founding member of the Startup America Partnership, a public-private partnership designed to focus on entrepreneurial business development nationwide.

The competition is not limited to businesses in Massachusetts, applicants can come from any startup anywhere in the world. Capital support will come from state funds and a variety of sponsors including Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Deshpande Foundation, Josh Boger and Microsoft, as well as new contributors such as Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology and Foley & Lardner. Finalists will be eligible for mentoring, office space in Boston and business skills training. Along with these benefits, there are new services including an investor-in-residence program, industry focused based training and events and international collaboration. Winners will receive cash awards of $50,000 – $100,000 toward launching their business. The deadline for entrant submissions is April 11, 2011 and there are discounts available for early entry via partner organizations.

Massachusetts has more venture investors per capita than any other state, along with a growing tech sector and hopes to continue leveraging this community to foster economic development and create jobs.

“MassChallenge has been recognized by President Obama, and for good reason,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “In just over a year, the program has cultivated real talent – turning their extraordinary vision into reality and, along the way, creating jobs, attracting private investment and securing the Commonwealth’s spot as a hub for innovation.”