Last Updated: April 05, 2021
These rules (“Rules”) govern each person that enters into (“entrant”) any MassChallenge Competition including any MassChallenge Accelerator Competition, MassChallenge HealthTech or FinTech, and any other competition facilitated by MassChallenge anywhere in the world. These Rules ALSO govern each entrant’s participation in any MassChallenge program accessed as a result of participating in a competition (for instance, if entrant is part of a Finalist team that gains entry to the MassChallenge Accelerator Program).
By entering the Competition, you are indicating your (and your team’s) agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions during and after the competition you are entering, and throughout your association with MassChallenge. For purposes of these Rules, all “entrants,” and “entrant teams,” regardless of whether you become a “Semi-Finalist,” “Finalist,” or a competition “winner,” shall be referred to as a “MassChallenge Participant,” and collectively as “MassChallenge Participants.”
To be eligible to enter a MassChallenge competition you must fulfill the eligibility criteria set out in these Rules as well as any additional eligibility requirements for the specific competition you are entering. Entrants should consult the webpage(s) for each competition to ensure they are eligible for the specific competition they are applying for. These are listed below:
Eligibility and other requirements listed on these competition webpages are incorporated into these Rules by reference.
Generally, every MassChallenge entrant team must be at an early stage of development, and each entering team must pay an entry fee. The entry fee is intended to prevent entry by teams that are not committed to launching their business. Occasionally, there are opportunities to waive the fee using “credit codes” that are made available to entrant teams. The competition page will have more information about credit codes, or you can contact us to inquire about the availability of such codes for the particular competition you are entering: https://masschallenge.org/contact
Each MassChallenge Participant is permitted to submit up to 5 applications per MassChallenge competition cycle. Past and current MassChallenge mentors and judges are eligible to participate in a competition. However, they won’t be able to participate in Judging and Mentoring activities during any MassChallenge competition cycle in which they are participating as an entrant in the competition.
Ineligible to Participate
The following individuals and entities are NOT eligible to participate in a MassChallenge Competition:
- Past MassChallenge cash-prize winners. For instance, a cash prize winner in the Accelerator Program Competition (Austin, Boston, Houston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland) cannot re-enter the Accelerator Program competition at any other time, anywhere. However, a cash-prize winner in the MassChallenge Accelerator Competition would be able to compete in the MassChallenge HealthTech or FinTech program.
- MassChallenge Participants that have participated in MassChallenge Accelerator Competition programs (Austin, Boston, Houston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland) two times are not eligible to enter any other MassChallenge Accelerator Competitions (but could enter a different competition such as MassChallenge HealthTech or FinTech).
- Any person who has been terminated or disqualified from any MassChallenge program anywhere in the world for any reason is disqualified from all future competitions in every location.
- Any person that is prohibited from participating because of a contractual or other legal obligation to another person or entity (such as an employer) is ineligible to enter.
- MassChallenge staff reserves the right to deem applications as ineligible if they do not meet the recommended guidelines. In this instance, you may not receive feedback from our judges.
Methods of Entry
To enter the MassChallenge competition, either a) an application must first be submitted by one member of an entrant team using the MassChallenge website; or b) the entrant team may advance directly into the 2nd round of Judging if the team has won a Bridge to MassChallenge Program (more information can be found here: https://www.masschallenge.org/programs-bridge) or a competition with a different incubator or accelerator program, or by a nomination of an official MassChallenge “fast track” partner (“Fast Track Entry”). It is up to the sole discretion of MassChallenge and its various Programs to determine 1) the number of available fast-track slots for a given competition, and 2) who those fast track partners are. You can contact us with questions: https://masschallenge.org/contact
Regardless of method of entry (a) or (b) above, each team member on any entrant team must register with the MassChallenge Website and expressly agree to abide by these Rules, other MassChallenge policies and our website terms and conditions before any entry will be considered “complete.” At the time you do so, you will also acknowledge receipt of the MassChallenge Privacy Notice. Incomplete entries, or entries that do not register all entrant members, may not be considered by the Judges.
All entries, work and submissions of MassChallenge Participants must be original to the entrant/team, or, if not original, used with written authorization of others whose contributions must be identified in the submission. Applications submitted after the application deadlines will not be considered. See the calendar of dates on the following webpage(s):
The Each competition is designed to find high-impact, high-potential ventures. The overall goal of the program is to help MassChallenge Participants launch and/or grow a successful startup. All Judging is intended to identify the highest-potential, highest-impact startups.
MassChallenge enlists the services of expert volunteer “Judges” who are independent and objective, with no conflicts of interest. These Judges review entrant team submissions and make determinations on each entrant team’s potential for long term success based upon the Judge’s experience and the quality of the entrant team’s applications and subsequent submissions during the course of the competition.
Depending on which competition you enter, there may be several rounds of formal judging, as further described below, during various “Phases” of the competition(s).
In Round One of a competition, Judges base their decisions on whether a team advances on the entrant team’s submitted written application. In subsequent rounds of judging (“Round Two,” and so forth), a distinct group of Judges reviews each entrant team’s in-person (or remote) presentation, and a company overview (which entrant teams must submit prior to “Pre-Final” judging).
All decisions of the Judges are at their sole discretion and are FINAL.
Phases of Competition and Programs
Note the following phases. Dates of each phase can be found on the program pages here: https://masschallenge.org/programs-overview
- MassChallenge Applications Open: Applications are available for completion on the MassChallenge website.
- Round One Judging: Completed applications are reviewed by our panel of judges. When Round One judging is completed, Semi-Finalists (and entrants who do not become Semi-Finalists) are notified. Semi-Finalists advance to the next stage of the competition.
- Round Two Judging: Teams perform in-person or remote pitches. Finalists (and Semi-Finalists who do not become Finalists) are notified.
- MassChallenge Accelerator Program: If you are a Finalist in the MassChallenge Accelerator Program, Finalist teams pair with mentors of their choice and are given free, premium office space in the Accelerator program city. Ongoing programming is offered which includes access to angel groups, law firms, marketing agencies, PR firms, venture capital firms, corporate executives and staff, training sessions and workshops covering strategy, marketing, fundraising, team building, and other business activities. This “accelerator phase” is approximately 3-4 months long.
- MassChallenge HealthTech or FinTech Program: If you are Finalist in the MassChallenge HealthTech or FinTech Program, you will participate in a 5-6 month accelerator program and each Finalist team is matched with one or more strategic partners (“Champions”) upon entry to the program.
- Pre-Final and Final Judging: Depending on the competition and the competition location, there may be both a pre-final and a final round of judging. These rounds will require additional in-person or remote presentations. Pre-Final Judging also requires the submission of a company overview.
- MassChallenge Awards: Announcement of winners and celebration of all participating Finalists.
Finalists in each competition receive free resources including mentorship, work space, strategic advice, and networking opportunities to further their businesses.
MassChallenge may also award cash grants to a subset of “Finalists” in the competition. These awards will be used toward development of the startup business.
MassChallenge anticipates the following number of startup entrants will be selected for each advanced round in each of the competitions:
- 300 Semi-Finalists
- 100 Finalists
- 20 Winners, with 10 Cash-Prize Winners
MassChallenge Rhode Island:
- 60 - 70 Semi-Finalists
- 30 Finalists
- 6 Winners, with 3 Cash-Prize Winners
- 122 Semi-Finalists
- 41 Finalists
- 8 - 10 Winners
- 110 - 120 Semi-Finalists
- 41 Finalists
- 1-3 Investment-Prize Winners*
- 240 Semi-Finalists
- 80 Finalists
- 10 - 15 Winners, with 5-10 Cash-Prize Winners
MassChallenge Texas in Austin
- 120 Semi-Finalists
- 40 Finalists
- 8 Winners, with 4 Cash Prize Winners
MassChallenge Texas in Houston
- 180 Semi-Finalists
- 60 Finalists
- 12 Winners, with 6 Cash Prize Winners
- 60 - 70 Semi-Finalists
- 20 - 35 Finalists
- 60 - 70 Semi-Finalists
- 20 - 35 Finalists
MassChallenge will provide the winners of Awards (investment-prize) with the option of an investment of a VC fund up to USD$100.000. The terms of the investment will be defined between the fund and the Finalist without MassChallenge intervention.
Discounts (Partial Refunds) on Entry Fee
Sponsors of MassChallenge and other organizations may provide credit codes that the entrant team can use to receive discounts or refunds on some portion of the paid entry fee. Please consult the relevant competition page or contact us for more information: https://masschallenge.org/contact
MassChallenge shall be held harmless in the event of any legal action. By entering, any competition and otherwise being a MassChallenge Participant, each MassChallenge Participant agrees to:
(a) comply with and be bound by these Rules and the decisions of Judges, which are binding and final;
(b) release and hold harmless MassChallenge, together with its affiliates and all of their respective past and present officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives, as well as the Judges, Mentors, Experts, Partners and other volunteers involved with the competition, and all of their respective past and present officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liability, including (without limitation), any third party claims of intellectual property infringement, breach of confidentiality or trade secret claim(s) brought against the Released Parties asserting that the content, work product or activities of a MassChallenge Participant infringe(s) the intellectual property, contract, trade secret or other rights of any other person (including any other MassChallenge Participant), as well as claims asserting damages of any kind to persons arising out of the competition(s), the MassChallenge Participant’s participation in the competition and any MassChallenge program; and
(c) indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Released Parties from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liabilities (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) arising out of or relating to entrant’s participation in any competition or MassChallenge program and/or entrant’s acceptance, use or misuse of any award or cash prize.
MassChallenge takes no responsibility for agreements between any MassChallenge participant or entrant and any MassChallenge Expert or any other third parties. A MassChallenge Expert is either or any of a MassChallenge “Mentor,” “Judge” or “Speaker,” all of whom provide time to MassChallenge on a volunteer basis.
Intellectual Property; Confidentiality
MassChallenge Participants should not and expressly agree not to use or share any confidential or proprietary information that belongs to any other person or entity. Likewise, any confidential or proprietary information shared among or between MassChallenge Participants during the competition or during any MassChallenge program must be maintained by each MassChallenge Participant as confidential and proprietary.
MassChallenge Participants are not authorized to use any intellectual property of MassChallenge or any other MassChallenge Participant, including but not limited to any trademark, copyrightable content, trade secret, technology, patentable subject matter or other proprietary content without the express authorization of the owner of such rights.
Each MassChallenge Participant agrees that MassChallenge may use his or her name, image, photograph, biography, and each entrant team’s “story” and biography in connection with the promotion of MassChallenge and its activities in perpetuity, in all manner of media, without further authorization from or compensation to MassChallenge Participant. All MassChallenge Participants hereby waive and release MassChallenge, its affiliates and sponsors and each of their successor and assigns from all claims and causes of action arising out of the uses set forth in this paragraph.
Participants must not distribute or share any recordings or materials from MassChallenge or MassChallenge Experts without express permission from the presenter of that material.
Subject to MassChallenge’s legal obligation to MassChallenge Participants under applicable privacy regulations, MassChallenge shall be under no obligation to return entry materials submitted to it for any Competition. Retention of these materials is not intended to imply that MassChallenge claims any ownership or other proprietary interest in any of entrant’s proprietary ideas or concepts expressed in such materials.
Compliance with Rules; Immorality, Illicit, or Illegal Conduct
Any violation of these Rules will disqualify a MassChallenge Participant, including the entrant team of any violator of these Rules, from the competition, and result in forfeiture of any awards awarded to the entrant team. Furthermore, MassChallenge reserves the right to remove or disqualify any MassChallenge Participant from a competition and from all MassChallenge programs at any time, at its sole discretion and for any reason. Without limiting the foregoing, any MassChallenge Participant who engages in immoral, illicit, or illegal conduct, including activities that violate these Rules, including but not limited to lying, cheating, engaging in any criminal activity (whether or not related to the competition) and/or any activity that, in the sole discretion of MassChallenge, may adversely affect the competition, other MassChallenge Participants, the image of MassChallenge, or any of our affiliates or sponsors, automatically becomes ineligible for the competition, forfeits any awards, and shall be disqualified from participating in the current and any other MassChallenge competitions or programs in the future.
All MassChallenge Participants must be legally present in the country of the program in which they participate. MassChallenge takes no responsibility for the immigration status of participants.
The competition is subject to applicable laws, including, for U.S. programs and competitions, federal, state, and local laws, and for competitions outside the U.S., the laws of the country in which the competition takes place.
MassChallenge strives to create an environment in which participants can learn, be productive and have fun. For everyone to enjoy the workspace provided, participants are expected to maintain professional levels of conduct.
MassChallenge operates workspaces on leased premises located around the world. Participant agrees to comply with the following rules concerning the use of any MassChallenge workspace:
Participant may not and expressly agrees not to:
- bring weapons (knives, guns, or dangerous items) onto the premises;
- engage in any harassing, demeaning or disrespectful way to any other person in or about the premises, including but not limited to engaging in any direct or indirect sexually harassing behavior of any kind, including inappropriate touching or comments;
- bring illegal drugs to and/or store illegal drugs on the premises;
- bring pets or other animals into the premises (with the exception of certified service animals);
- bring bicycles, motorcycles or scooters into the Premises; and
- use the Premises for sleeping overnight.
Finalist shall, and expressly agrees to:
- be respectful of others' gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, gender identification, and culture;
- be aware of the appropriate noise level for the premises and be respectful of the work spaces of other occupants and employees in the premises;
- be respectful of others' property and business interests;
- share resources considerately;
- maintain reasonable cleanliness of the premises;
- consume alcohol only in a responsible fashion.
Participants shall be responsible for the conduct of their employees, agents and occupants while on the premises, and further agrees to take reasonable steps to ensure that all of participant’s employees, agents and occupants abide by the terms of this agreement, including the policies referenced in the agreement. Participant acknowledges that failure to abide by the terms of the Agreement may result in participant’s (and its employees’) disqualification from Accelerator and the termination of this agreement, all at MassChallenge’s sole discretion.
MassChallenge may update these rules throughout the competition and entrants will be responsible for compliance with all changes. All updates will be posted on the MassChallenge website and MassChallenge Participants that are subject to Rules changes will be alerted to changes by email at the contact details provided when they registered. These Rules incorporate by reference any material posted on the MassChallenge website concerning the competition(s). However, in the case of conflict between these Rules and other information on the website, these Rules shall control.