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BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, in partnership with the state, has awarded four grants totaling $700,722 from the ‘Pathways to Scale’ program, an effort from the Commonwealth to boost tech and innovation companies emerging from the startup phase and poised for growth. 

The four grants will help build or expand mentorship programs statewide that support ‘scaling companies’ and aim to increase the survival rate of innovative, high-growth companies across Massachusetts.

Through the work of the Innovation Institute at MassTech, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has supported entrepreneur mentor programs statewide focused on the acceleration of early-stage startups. The Innovation Institute has shepherded numerous programs that bolster the growth of innovative companies statewide, including targeted investments in research and development infrastructure, workforce development programs that fund internships at startups and boosting diverse talent in the state, and programs that boost emerging sectors in the Commonwealth.

The grants, totaling $700,722, were awarded to four projects, including three full grants and one planning grant:

UMass Lowell Research Institute (UMLRI) – ‘Commercialization Academy

  • Amount: $129,381
  • Timeline: 12 months
  • Overview: The UMLRI is a Department of Defense (DoD)-focused emerging technology hub that provides innovative solutions for aerospace & defense industry partners. The “Commercialization Academy” is a mentorship and growth support program tailored to support Massachusetts-based companies offering dual-use technology solutions for both DoD and commercial applications. Over the course of one year, the Academy will deliver 1:1 mentorship and a phased curriculum of six key challenge areas: executive management, intellectual property, selling to DoD, commercial sales, navigating Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, and cost accounting.

MassChallenge – ‘Mentoring for Scale

  • Amount: $190,176
  • Timeline: 12 months
  • Overview:  MassChallenge’s ‘Mentoring for Scale’ program will match executives of scale-up organizations with experienced leaders who identify as executive-level and/or have founder experience who can provide one-to-one leadership coaching over the course of a six-month period.  MassChallenge will target their vast network of over 480 Mass.-based alumni who have expressed the need for post-accelerator growth support, mentoring, and executive coaching.  Companies supported by the program fall into two categories of scale: 1) deployment startups that are focused on growing and retaining customers while raising their Series A; and 2) distribution startups that are focused on scaling and diversifying their offerings while raising a Series B to fund explosive growth.  MassChallenge will run a pilot cohort from July-December 2021, to be followed by a 2nd cohort from January-June 2022.

TiE Boston – ‘TiE ScaleUp’ 

  • Amount:  $181,050
  • Timeline: 12 months
  • Overview: TiE Boston aims to expand the reach and capacity of their ‘TiE ScaleUp’ program, a sector-agnostic accelerator that helps scaling companies overcome typical barriers to growth by helping them optimize their strategic positioning, operations, sales, and competitive advantage. Each scaling company will be matched with two mentors who are trained to become fractional C-suite team members. Companies are guided through a curriculum including topics on attracting and retaining talent, sales, pricing & packaging, product management, company culture, and other topics relevant to scaling.

Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts (WMEDC) – ‘Western MA Mentor Network’

  • Amount: $50,000 planning grant, $149,605 reserved conditionally.
  • Timeline: 12 months
  • Overview: WMEDC, in close partnership with Meristem Partners, FORGE, and Berkshire Innovation Center, is spearheading the initiative to create the ‘Western MA Mentor Network.’  The Mentor Network is a curated mentorship program focused on supporting the growth of scale up-ready companies in the four counties of western Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, Berkshire). The proposed network consists of three main components:  a peer-to-peer founders network, a mentor training network, and a curated mentor matching program. The Network would be the foundation for a sustainable and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western Mass that creates a virtuous cycle where scaling executives remain in the region, support the local economy, and foster more entrepreneurs.  An additional $149,605 has been reserved conditionally to expand the project award, based on the outcomes of the planning grant.

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