Innovation Blog

Building Bridges for the Texas Innovation Ecosystem: Two programs, One State, One Summer


MassChallenge Texas’ first two years were big. During that time, we successfully ran three accelerators in two cities and convened more than five hundred resources, experts, partners, business leaders, and investors to support 181 startups from all corners of the world.

This year, we’re looking to turn the startup support industry on its ear. This year is going to be huge.

As we enter year three, we are excited to announce that both accelerator programs in Austin and Houston will run simultaneously which gives us the ability to support up to 200 early-stage startups, and help connect them to Texas’ innovation communities. This growth gives interested entrepreneurs and experts more opportunity to engage in a MassChallenge Texas program and demonstrates our promise to help more high-impact startups each year.

The Texas Programs

2020 is a hallmark year for the Texas team. In both programs, MCTX startups will have the opportunity to compete for a chunk of $750,000 in equity-free cash prizes. Increasing our prize pot by 50%, making this the largest equity-free cash award startup competition in the Lone Star State.

This year’s programs will continue to provide startups the foundation to grow and scale their business by leveraging our global expert and mentor network, hyper-connected communities, and a curriculum that follows the lifecycle of the company. Startups in both programs will receive six months of free co-working space, access to MassChallenge’s corporate partner network and more than 2,300 alumni startups who have “been there, done that” to lean on for advice, support and connection.

That’s not all, though. There’s the more than a quarter-million dollars worth of deals and discounts that are available to participating startups. These deals include free and significantly discounted services from organizations like HubSpot for Startups, Salesforce, Stripe, and UPS.

And because the two programs are running simultaneously, there will be crossover opportunities for startups to attend different classes and events and have access to curriculum from each program online through a joint media library. Top startups from each program will be invited to participate in the partner city’s Finale and Awards Ceremonies. All of this is available to startups for zero-equity and no strings attached.


The Local Programs: Austin + Houston

What makes these programs unique is that while it increases the access and resources for startups, each program is focused to take advantage of each city’s distinct opportunities and strengths.


Austin is an established startup ecosystem. There are ample programs and people in the state’s capital that are focused on helping startups win.

More than 15 investment firms have moved to or established new funds in Austin in the last eighteen months, further solidifying Austin as a startup mecca. Austin has a strong focus on high-tech business solutions, health tech, and is home to the booming consumer packaged goods ecosystem; these attributes make Austin a great fit for startups in these industries and those providing related solutions.

The sheer size of the MassChallenge Texas in Austin program and the PR engine that surrounds it helps entrepreneurs cut through the noise of the ecosystem to connect with the right people. Our partnership with WeWork provides startups with a complimentary six-month global community membership for the duration of the program. Need to take a meeting in Dallas or London? The local WeWork will be available to you, free of charge.

Startups with a business that has applications in America’s defense strategy should apply to the DoD’s Defense Innovation track in the Austin program. This is a great opportunity for startups to connect with the DoD and affiliates, and work toward providing solutions that will advance the military’s work in protecting American citizens at home and in the field.

Startups in the Austin program will compete for $500,000 in equity free cash prizes. The program’s home office is on the 8th floor of WeWork in the new SXSW building.



Houston offers an established and diverse ecosystem that is focused on solving big business and industrial problems. This focus provides resources for startups in aerospace, energy, healthcare/life sciences, manufacturing, and more; and provides opportunities for startups to cross-collaborate between industries.

Since the startup ecosystem is in its early years, the collaboration of industries provides startups support from the larger business community and, as a first mover in the market, a lot of the available resources are centered around MassChallenge. The growing community and abundance of resources means that startups don’t have to leave Houston to grow and scale their company.

The Houston program is offering tracks for Sports Tech and Space Commercialization. These tracks are a fit for startups addressing challenges faced by professional and collegiate athletes, teams, leagues and startups that are commercializing the space industry through human health and performance, material science, analytics, advance manufacturing, robotics, and more.

There is space for up to ten startups in each track and will include specific industry days and access to specialized mentors.

This year, Houston accelerator participants will compete for a share of up to $250,000 in equity-free cash prizes and sit comfortably in the new Downton Launch Pad, a startup hub at the center of Houston’s innovation corridor, connecting downtown Houston to the Texas Medical Center.

Who Should Apply

MassChallenge works with early stage startups. We define early-stage as startups entrepreneurs from any industry, anywhere in the world who have raised less than $1M in equity-bearing funding and generated less than $2M in revenue.

Keep in mind, these requirements are guidelines so even if you exceed one of the requirements you should still apply. The application provides opportunity to discuss your funding and revenue, and at our core we are looking for startups that are building scalable solutions to massive problems and will benefit from the connections MassChallenge programs offer.

While our programs offer unique benefits and tracks for specific industries, make no mistake about it both of these programs are a great place for any startup to get connected to the right resources they need.

Applications for both programs are open – as of January 29, 2020. If you’re an early-stage startup looking for world-class support and unparalleled access to resources, apply by March 9! Selected companies will participate in the accelerator from June through September 2020.

Questions? Send a note to We’re happy to set up a time to chat and tell you more about how we can help you take your business to the next level.

Learn more about how to apply to MassChallenge programs here!

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