MassChallenge and 401 Tech Bridge Introduce Blue Tech Accelerator and Fellowship Program

Program to provide support and resources to high-quality blue tech startups in the region

PORTSMOUTH, RI – July 20, 2021 –MassChallenge, the global network for innovators, and 401 Tech Bridge, a non-profit economic development organization that serves as a super-connector for companies that are accelerating advanced materials and technology for commercial and government applications, will partner this fall to launch a Blue Tech Accelerator & Fellowship Program. Kicking-off on September 14, 2021, the organizations will identify a cohort of 10 high-quality blue tech startups and 5 early stage “fellows” to participate in an accelerator program that utilizes MassChallenge’s proven startup acceleration methodology and leverages 401 Tech Bridge’s network, industry connections and programmatic expertise to jumpstart the startups and foster growth in the region as it recovers from the economic ramifications caused by the pandemic.

“The 401 Tech Bridge team is excited to partner with MassChallenge to execute this program and ultimately contribute to Rhode Island’s burgeoning blue tech ecosystem,” said Christian Cowan, executive director of 401 Tech Bridge and chief operating officer of the URI Research Foundation. “This programming will accelerate economic growth and showcase the state as a leader in innovation in ocean technology.”

Funding for the program is made possible with support from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge, which awarded a $724,674 grant to 401 Tech Bridge in April. The funding supports economic growth and resiliency to help Rhode Island recover from the economic effects of the pandemic and will help 401 Tech Bridge build on existing areas of strength in Rhode Island including advanced materials, technology, offshore wind energy and applications that are critical to the defense industry, to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization in the blue tech sector. In addition to MassChallenge, programming support will also be provided by the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology (NIUVT), Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, Polaris MEP and the URI Research Foundation.

“MassChallenge’s mission is to equip bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and create meaningful change.  This partnership with 401 TechBridge will enable  us to leverage the expertise, industry networks and resources in Rhode Island’s ocean economy to help the blue tech sector grow,” said Hope Hopkins, managing director, Early Stage, New England at MassChallenge. “We are excited to continue our work accelerating startups and fostering the growth of the innovation ecosystem in an effort to transform the local economy.   A cornerstone to our success in any geography is identifying partners such as 401 Tech Bridge who have proficiency as a super-connector and mentor in the state’s advanced materials, technology, defense and commercial arenas.”

With the launch of this program, 401 Tech Bridge and MassChallenge strengthen their commitment to growing the regional blue economy, all while helping Rhode Island recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. The partners recognize and support the state’s prioritization of economic development focused on the ocean to build a bright future for Rhode Island. The 401 Tech Bridge and MassChallenge Blue Tech Accelerator will leverage preexisting relationships with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the University of Rhode Island and other universities in the region, the offshore wind and recreational marine industries, and more to build on Rhode Island’s position as a premier destination nationwide for innovation and investment in ocean technology.

Blue tech focus areas that will be prioritized for consideration with this cohort include undersea/unmanned vehicles, sensors (concepts, signal processing techniques), IT communications, data transfer, cybersecurity, digital twins, modeling & simulation, composite materials, electronic systems, oceanographic research, materials certification and artificial intelligence/machine learning (autonomy & data science).

Applications will open on September 14, 2021, with an in-person event held at District Hall in Providence, and close on September 28, 2021, with one round of online judging and screening and a second round of live pitches in a virtual setting with accepted startups being notified by October 19, 2021. The accelerator program will include an orientation boot camp, bi-weekly cohort meet-ups, workshops, networking, weekly office hours and a final tech demo where the startups and fellows will present capabilities and products.

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 more than $8.6B in funding, generated more than $3.6B in revenue, and created more than 186,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at

About 401 Tech Bridge 

401 Tech Bridge accelerates the journey from concept to prototype to commercial scale while creating business opportunities. It facilitates collaboration across industry, government and academia and leverages the resources and expertise of the region’s vibrant advanced materials and technology ecosystem, which spans industries and activities ranging from infrastructure development and naval research to oceanographic and offshore wind enterprises. 401 Tech Bridge offers meeting, training, lab and equipment space for industry, government, and academic partners to collaboratively problem-solve, develop concepts, build and test prototypes, and present solutions. It also connects companies into research divisions at the University of Rhode Island and other universities and institutions across the region, offering facilities for research, prototyping, testing and validation of concepts alongside faculty researchers and students.

The 401 Tech Bridge is a business unit of The University of Rhode Island Research Foundation and serves as a partner intermediary organization for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, supporting the Naval X Northeast Tech Bridge. It receives support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the Office of Naval Research, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, The Rhode Island Foundation, and the Van Beuren Charitable Foundation.

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