Innovation Blog

MassChallenge Scholarships Work For Startups

The Struggle for Resources
With no cash resources, entrepreneurs must resort to building prototypes in their garages, academic research labs, co-working spaces, or even their kitchen tables. At MassChallenge, the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, were dedicated to providing finalists with ample office space, supplies, prototyping labs, mentorship opportunities, education and curriculum, and a no-strings-attached prize pool at the end of our program.
Sure, startups can benefit from in-kind resources, but what about the money that entrepreneurs need to unlock the full potential of those resources? What happens if founders cant even pay for the plane ticket to attend MassChallenges accelerator? Or they cant afford to rent a room for four months in Bostons pricey housing market? Or they cant file their provisional patent to protect their IP? Or they cant launch a small pilot to create proof points for their product?
There has to be a better way.
Enter: Scholarships
In 2015, MassChallenge teamed up with Autodesk, Cydan Development, the John W. Henry Family Foundation, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Microsoft, and launched a scholarships program to provide small, foundational capital injections into a number of incoming Boston finalists for travel, rent, food, and pilots. The organizations providing the small grants were able to select the applicants from a deep pool according to their areas of interest.
The grantee startups and grantor organizations were connected before the program got underway, and many matches became quite close some even turning into partnerships.
The startups were impacted in numerous ways — from launching new facilities, to providing the means to travel throughout the accelerator, “The Microsoft Civic Technology Scholarship supported our growth in opening our second community sanitation facility, says Joan DeGennaro of 2015 Finalist, SHRI (Sanitation and Health Rights in India), allowing us to double the number of rural Indians we reach with toilets and safe drinking water.”
Grantor organizations are also discovering tremendous value by working with their grantees, such as the John W. Henry Foundation, who utilized scholarships as a way of advancing the conversation around Social Impact within the Boston Innovation community. “Through providing scholarships to five MassChallenge finalists, the John W. Henry Family Foundation was able to engage high potential social impact startups in a meaningful way. The scholarship program provided us with an immediate avenue to mentorship, conversation, and collaboration in an effort to improve entrepreneurship within the Boston community.” said Director Linda Pizzuti Henry.
Plans for 2016
The $150,000 granted pre-program to 24 MassChallenge finalists had an incredibly positive impact.
Our aim is to offer these essential pre-program scholarships to all incoming finalists. Join us in our quest to provide our high-impact, high-growth finalists the capital to excel at MassChallenge.
By providing scholarships to MassChallenge finalists, organizations will:
  • Attend invite-only events for scholarship sponsors and recipients.
  • Become MassChallenges top priority for promoting application season to startups of interest
  • Develop unparalleled relationships with entrepreneurs through office hours, meetings, and discussions throughout the program.
  • Assist MassChallenges startups in funding their most important immediate initiatives during the accelerator program.
2015 Scholarship Sponsors
Get to know the incredible scholarship grantees of the 2015 MassChallenge program:
Autodesk Cloud Scholarship for Impact Design
The Autodesk Cloud Scholarship for Impact Design will identify and support startups that are combining the power of impact design with cloud-based tools to create positive social, environmental and economic impact.
2015 Grantee Finalists
Microsoft Scholarship for Civic Innovation
The Microsoft Scholarship for Civic Innovation will identify and support startups that help public officials deliver improved services to private citizens and enhance government effectiveness
2015 Grantee Finalists
Cydan Scholarship for Rare Diseases
The Cydan Scholarship for Rare Diseases, Biotechnology & Therapeutics will identify and support startups that are targeting genetic conditions and accelerate the development of therapeutics and
diagnosis of such disorders.
2015 Grantee Finalists
John W. Henry Family Foundation for Social Impact
The John W. Henry Family Foundation Scholarship for Social Impact will identify and support startups that are developing new and innovative solutions for underrepresented groups and underserved communities.
2015 Grantee Finalists
MassCEC Scholarship for Clean Energy & Water Innovation
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Scholarship will identify and support startups in Massachusetts that are developing and commercializing technologies that contribute to the advancement of Clean Energy & Water Innovation.
2015 Grantee Finalists

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