36 MassChallenge Startup Winners Named from the 2021 U.S. Early Stage Cohort

12th Annual MassChallenge Showcase & Awards highlights the diverse startup landscape

Boston, MA – Now in its 12th year, MassChallenge, the global network for innovators, awarded 39 equity-free cash and investment prizes to 36 startups from the 2021 early-stage programs in Austin, Boston, Houston, and Rhode Island. Tonight, throughout the virtual U.S. Startup Showcase and Awards, special guests and MassChallenge alumni announced the winners

In June, MassChallenge welcomed 229 startups into the 2021 cohort who are 48% female-founded, 47% BIPOC founded, representing 26 industries and 20 countries. As in previous years of MassChallenge’s zero equity programs, entrepreneurs received access to resources and a network of mentors, corporate partners, experts, and an investor community that they may not have received otherwise through more traditional modes of venture. 

“We designed our process to work with all founders especially those who may be overlooked or underestimated by traditional equity accelerators and investment models. These founders still benefit from and deserve access to accountability, expertise, and a network traditionally often made available only to venture-backed companies,” said Siobhan Dullea, CEO of MassChallenge. “The 229 startups from this year’s cohort demonstrate just how much opportunity exists beyond the closed process of venture when we widen the lens. Congratulations to the winners.”

“It is so energizing to work with passionate and dedicated entrepreneurs that live this every day and encourage us to continually push our own limits,” said Bobby Blount, Texas Innovation Hub Lead, MITRE. “Through mentoring and supporting MassChallenge startups, we can share our unique resources and expertise to help lower the historical barriers between startups and government ideally allowing the startups to move quickly from lab to market, providing better outcomes for both organizations.”

More than 87% of this year’s cohort began the program with the aspiration to achieve “unicorn status” hence the signature drink of the evening with the same moniker. Over the last six months, founders participated in 1500 office hours and more than 45 live curriculum sessions with top speakers including Corey Thomas (Rapid 7), Jesse Draper (Halogen Ventures), Chris Bennett (Wonderschool), David Cancel (Drift), and Ash Maurya (Lean Canvas, Lean Stack). With the help of MassChallenge’s global corporate partners and experts, the entrepreneurs participated in industry-specific workshops that helped them walk away from the program better equipped to solve some of the world’s massive challenges.

All told, MassChallenge and its partners awarded $1.5 million in prizes to 36 startups from the four U.S.-based early stage cohorts during the MassChallenge U.S. Startup Showcase and Awards on October 28, 2021; and additional equity-free cash prizes will be awarded through the end of 2021. Shira Lazar of What’s Trending hosted the event, which brought together thousands of viewers for a live-streamed event to celebrate innovation and the transformative power of entrepreneurship. In a discussion moderated by Tina Daheley, keynote speakers Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, and Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, discussed the evening’s theme, Reimagining Venture and Building a Google-Scale Business Outside Silicon Valley. The MassChallenge community and the public can watch the replay here

2021 MassChallenge U.S. Prize Winners

Diamond Awards $100,000

AcousticaBio (Boston, MA): Improving clinical care by reformulating intravenously delivered biologic products for subcutaneous injection.

Astrileux Corporation (La Jolla, CA): Accelerating manufacturing of next-gen ICs at 7 nm & smaller increasing power & performance in the era of zettabyte computing.

SheFly® Apparel (Burlington, VT): A game-changing outdoor apparel brand that’s making answering nature’s call easier for women through a patented zipper fly design.

Platinum Awards $50,000

1440 Media (Chicago, IL): Offering all your news in a single email. We scour 100+ sources so you don’t have to. Culture, science, politics, business – in a 5-minute read.

Card Medic (United Kingdom): Innovative digital technology designed to improve communication between healthcare staff and patients, across any barrier.

IQ3Connect (Woburn, MA): Live interactive 3D remote collaboration for industrial training and distance learning.

SageSurfer (Fremont, CA): A HIPAA compliant (NSF Funded) Behavioral health care coordination & member engagement technology platform.

Gold Awards $25,000 

AEROSENS (Miami, FL): A platform able to maximize aircraft cabin security and increase efficiency while reducing costs, using Bluetooth Low Energy sensors and the everyday smartphone or tablet.

Aiki Planning (Austin, TX): Empowering first responders with critical information that saves lives and reduces property loss.

Exum Instruments (Denver, CO): Combining high-performance tech with intuitive, seamless operations, Exum is solving materials characterization for a variety of industries.

Grain4Grain (San Antonio, Texas): Using proprietary upcycling technology to turn byproducts from alcohol producers into low carb, high fiber flour alternatives at low cost.

KNWN Technologies (DelRay Beach, FL): A new level of identity validation for businesses to know and protect customer identity from enrollment through the life of the relationship.

LucyDX (Middletown, DE): Preventing blindness in diabetics through early detection.

Natrion (Binghamton, NY): Safe, highly scalable battery components that will enable mass market renewable energy and electric vehicles adoption.

Oculogenex (La Habra, CA): Novel gene therapy is being developed to restore central vision in patients with macular degeneration and improve their quality of life.

Ostiio (Boston, MA): Leveraging the body’s natural healing ability to treat craniofacial abnormalities and their downstream sequalae.

Pal: Simplifying autism caregiving to improve early intervention outcomes, using wearable technology.

Persist Energy (India): Realizing the most promising use case for mass adoption of EVs by making 2W EV tech affordable and adoptable for MSMEs in developing nations.

Rentable (Boston, MA): Rentable makes the move-in and move-out process headache free and affordable, for both landlords and tenants alike.

Southie Autonomy (Boston, MA): Southie’s no-code, no-programming software platform makes it easy for anyone to deploy robot arms in less than 10 minutes

Transcera (Boston, MA): Transforming chronic disease treatment through a new approach to biologic medicines.

Voi (Springfield, VT): Delivering empirically-validated solutions that address the needs of those at risk for suicide and other behavioral health issues.

Westface Medical (Palo Alto, CA): The SS adapter is an inexpensive disposable that integrates within the needle to provide tip-sourced forward imaging for vascular access.

Side Car Awards

Cydan Rare Disease Award 

MyoGene Bio (Los Angeles, CA) – $20,000: Cutting edge therapies for muscle diseases, starting with a gene editing therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

FM Global Resilience Prize

Stoke (San Jose, CA) – $25,000: Asset monitoring made simple.

Aiki Planning (Austin, TX) – $15,000: Empowering first responders with critical information that saves lives and reduces property loss.

Analatom (Santa Clara, CA) – $10,000: AI Deep Learning inspection technology automatically flag surface defects in images reducing maintenance costs improving inspection quality.

Houston Angel Network Investment Prize

KNWN Technologies (DelRay Beach, FL) – $50,000: A new level of identity validation for businesses to know and protect customer identity from enrollment through the life of the relationship.

ISSNL + CASIS Technology in Space Prize

Oculogenex (La Habra, CA): Novel gene therapy is being developed to restore central vision in patients with macular degeneration and improve their quality of life.

Krtkl (San Francisco, CA): New high-reliability edge-computing and artificial-intelligence solutions for robotics, sensing, and communications applications.

MassCEC Scholarship

Muon Vision (Cambridge, MA) – $5,000: Digitalization technology that boosts the throughput, sustainability and safety of mineral processing for key green economy metals.

Oyster Common (Boston, MA) – $5,000: The first chef’s assistant for local sustainable seafood.

Prezerv Technologies – $5,000: The global map of the underground to provide automated management of urban infrastructure.

The Quin Impact and Innovation Award

GuardianWealth (Boston, MA) – $25,000: Simplifying the path to financial freedom for diverse communities.

Kinder Digital Pediatric Clinic (Boston, MA) – $10,000: Pediatric telehealth with on-demand access to a dedicated pediatrician who knows you and your family.

Neramco (Cambridge, MA) – $5,000: Novel and smart polyethylene (PE) fibers and fabrics, SVETEX, for the textile industry.

Pointz (Providence, RI) – $5,000: A mobile mapping application that navigates bike and scooter riders through safe (low-stress, low-traffic) routes in cities.

SchoolSuite (Berkshire County, MA) – $5,000: Saving lives, keeping students safe, and easing the burden of knowing where they are and why.

Ecliptic Capital Investment Prize

Winning startup will be announced before the end of 2021

About MassChallenge 

MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with seven locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, more than 2,900 MassChallenge alumni have raised $8.6B in funding, generated $3.6B in revenue, and created more than 186,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at