MassChallenge to foster startup renaissance through global competition

By Eric Brandt

Starting in Spring 2010, Boston-based nonprofit MassChallenge is launching the largest-ever global startup competition. The idea behind the competition is that times of crisis are notoriously fertile sources of innovation. However, the current economic crisis has stifled entrepreneurship by eliminating funding sources and discouraging risk taking. Through the competition, MassChallenge hopes to provide a much-needed boost to startups around the world. The contest is open to anyone: any industry, any idea, anywhere on the planet. It’s intended for seed- and early-stage companies – the sort of startups that might otherwise fail to thrive in a recession. Entrants will receive training, feedback, PR and networking support through expert volunteers from MassChallenge’s partner organizations.

150 of the highest-potential entrants will receive intensive mentorship and other free resources, including office space and targeted introductions to customers and funding sources. In October 2010, a panel of judges will identify the very best startups to receive cash awards along with enhanced PR and access to top investors. This is a fantastic opportunity for smaller and lower-profile startups that might otherwise flounder in this tough economic climate. In additon, the egalitarian nature of the competition is refreshing. For example, even if it isn’t selected in the top 150, a small social change organization in East Africa or anywhere else in the developing world might benefit greatly from the free mentoring, training and PR provided by MassChallenge. Regardless of who wins, this is an excellent way to provide hundreds of startups with exposure and foster business growth in a challenging economic climate. I’ll be keeping my eye on this as it develops.

For more information and eligibility requirements, visit www.masschallenge.org

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