Innovation Blog

For MassChallenge Texas, 2020 Features Tracks for Defense Innovation, Space Commercialization, and Sports Tech Startups


Things move rapidly in the innovation space, and MassChallenge Texas is ready to deploy its best resources yet in 2020. To take advantage of the distinct opportunities and strengths specific to Austin and Houston, each city is introducing new specialty tracks that will run parallel to selected cohort startups: Defense Innovation in Austin, and Space Commercialization and Sports Tech in Houston.

For each of the specialty tracks, up to 10 startups will be selected to access specific industry days and specialized mentors in addition to the workshops, events, and classroom series programming MassChallenge Texas provides all of its participants.

Read on for more details about the unique aspects of each program and what startups can expect in the tracks.

Austin: Defense Innovation

As global technology changes and becomes more sophisticated, keeping Americans safe requires solutions from a wide swath of game changers. Startups working in fields like intelligence, artificial intelligence, aerospace, security, cybersecurity, mobile, communication, data analytics, machine learning, hardware, drones, troop support, surveillance, sensors, and battery industries are integral to creating dual-use technologies that advance the military’s work to protect US citizens at home and in the field. (Dual-use is defined as use cases in the private and military sectors.)

MassChallenge Austin’s Defense Innovation track offers these startups an opportunity to benefit from Central Texas’ strong military presence, connecting founders to experts from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Innovation Unit, and the U.S. Air Force, in addition to corporate partners like BAE Systems and MITRE.

Houston: Space Commercialization

Rockets aren’t launching from Houston, but the ideas and technologies that make space travel possible are. In a city with a long history of aerospace innovation and engineering, MassChallenge in Houston is shepherding entrepreneurs into a new business frontier with its Space Commercialization track.

Where space exploration and the components that make it possible were once exclusive to government agencies like NASA, the fields of human health and performance, material science, analytics, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and engineering are rapidly moving beyond Johnson Space Center and into the realm of private commercial companies.

The need for entrepreneurs to make more efficient processes and technology for the unique environment of space means a wealth of new opportunities for innovators in an underserved market.

The city’s relationship to NASA and its huge talent base means that MassChallenge Texas in  Houston’s cohort members will have access to experts and mentors with direct experience in the space industry.*

Houston: Sports Tech

The emerging field of Sports Tech presents exciting opportunities for startups addressing challenges faced by high-level athletes and eSports professionals, including—but not limited to—human health, performance, recovery, material science, analytics or fan experience and engagement.

Cohort members will have access to Houston’s deep expert network of professionals in these fields, in addition to the city’s strong sports investment community, which heavily supports new research and technologies beneficial to professional and collegiate teams.

In Houston, Sports Tech is a playground where startups are trying new things at an accelerated rate, creating products that will eventually show up on the front lines and in the medical industry.

MassChallenge Texas participants benefit from more than just access to thriving industry hubs. When successful startups put their plans and technology to work, they can easily scale in the state’s pro-business climate and its 54 Fortune 500 companies, a key advantage for founders in the Lone Star State.

Interested in applying? Applications are open from now until March 9.

Questions? Contact us by emailing

If you have a successful track record in any of the fields above, we’d love for you to fill out an application to join our network of experts.

*Startups do not have apply to or participate in one of the above tracks to take advantage of a MassChallenge Texas accelerator. In 2020, MassChallenge Texas will invite up to 200 startups to participate in the Austin and Houston programs. These tracks are for up to 10 startups each, which means there is opportunity for startups outside of these industries to participate and compete for equity-free cash awards.


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