Masschallenge Announces 2021 U.S. Showcase and Awards Presented by Mitre, With the Theme ‘Reimagine Venture,’ for Thursday, Oct. 28

Keynotes include Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna and Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks sharing the stage for a conversation about Building a Google-Scale Venture Outside of Silicon Valley, moderated by Tina Daheley of BBC. 

(BOSTON, MASS. – Oct. 14, 2021) –  MassChallenge, the global network for innovators, announces the 2021 MassChallenge U.S. Showcase and Awards presented by MITRE happening October 28, 2021. Each year, MassChallenge supports hundreds of startups tackling the most massive challenges – from climate change to Alzheimer’s to college access and affordability – all without requiring a financial stake in the company. In its 12th year, the 2021 MassChallenge U.S. Showcase and Awards will celebrate the 229 startups who participated across the Austin, Boston, Houston, and Rhode Island programs and feature an energized discussion with keynote speakers, Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna and Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, moderated by Tina Daheley of BBC, on building world-changing businesses outside Silicon Valley. Throughout the evening, the non-profit will announce the startups who will walk away with up to $1M in equity-free cash and prizes. The event will be led by Shira Lazar from What’s Trending. Register for the virtual event here.

This year’s Awards Ceremony’s theme is “Reimagine Venture.” Through more than a decade of supporting founders in launching their startups and building ecosystems around the world, MassChallenge has found that unconventional businesses need unconventional partners with unconventional approaches. While traditional modes of venture formation are relevant, they are insufficient, and the future is one in which more diverse businesses solve a more diverse array of problems. MassChallenge has identified four facets of diversity: geographic diversity, funding diversity, founder diversity and sector diversity, each tackling expansions on where innovation can be located, how they are funded, where they are coming from and the types of problems that are being tackled.

“We are at a point in time where we can and should reimagine how social, intellectual and fiscal capital come together to launch and support entrepreneurs that transform communities and economies,” said Siobhan Dullea, CEO of MassChallenge. “This past year has highlighted the contribution of traditional venture-backed companies like Zoom and Slack, but it has also highlighted that breakthrough innovations require incubation, public subsidy, and corporate partnership alongside the more celebrated venture capital to grow their business and support their customers in the problems they face.”

“In order to create a better future, we have to push past possible and support entrepreneurship as the lifeblood of innovation. Entrepreneurship drives economic development and social progress; it can come from anywhere – from anyone,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna. “I am excited for this conversation about building Google-scale ventures outside of Silicon Valley at the 2021 MassChallenge U.S Showcase & Awards. I hope my understanding of the type of partnerships and collaborations it takes to build companies that advance society will inspire more investors, corporate partners, and government institutions to support startups beginning at the earliest stages.”

“The tools used to launch new businesses are not the same for every entrepreneur or every startup. In fact, when Ginkgo Bioworks was in its beginning stages in 2009 some of the best resources we had at our disposal were our mentors, the cash we won from pitch competitions, and the relationships we built with early believers. That access and the early support system was the foundation for Ginkgo Bioworks to grow into the impact-focused organization we are today,” said Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks. “I’m excited to share the stage at the 2021 MassChallenge U.S. Showcase & Awards with Stéphane Bancel, talk a bit about our groundbreaking partnership, and discuss our experiences building and launching our companies with the support of uncommon partnerships and alternate funding routes.” 

Speakers for the Showcase and Awards include: 

  • Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna 
  • Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks 
  • Tina Daheley, BBC London 
  • Shira Lazar, host of the Emmy-nominated digital media brand “What’s Trending” 
  • Siobhan Dullea, CEO of MassChallenge 
  • Shironda White, CEO and Founder of CauseEDU (MassChallenge Alumni) 
  • George Varvarelis, CEO and Founder of Augmenta (MassChallenge Alumni) 
  • Schendy Kernizan, CEO and Founder of Rapid Liquid Print (MassChallenge Alumni) 
  • Dominique Aubry, Founder of Growth Founder (MassChallenge Alumni) 

The 2021 MassChallenge U.S. Showcase & Awards will recognize the accomplishments of the 200+ startups in MassChallenge’s U.S.-based early stage cohorts. During the event, guests will have the opportunity to hear pitches from the startups, schedule meetings with the founders, and witness the awarding of over $1,000,000 in equity-free cash and prizes including additional sidecar prizes presented by MassChallenge’s network of corporate partners and investors. Leaders from the global innovation community like MITRE, Reliant an NRG Company, BAE Systems, Motional, FM Global, and Retail Business Services will announce awards at the event. 

See below for the schedule of the 2021 MassChallenge U.S. Showcase and Awards: 

PART 1: Startup Showcase | 10 a.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET 

Register to listen to startup pitches. You will also be able to schedule one-on-one meetings with founders from this year’s cohort within one week prior to and during the event itself.

PART 2: MassChallenge U.S. Awards | 4:45 – 6:30 p.m. ET 

The evening will kick off with pitches from the top startup finalists vying for $1M in equity-free cash prizes. The Awards Ceremony and Keynote broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. ET. 


This year, the U.S. programs in Austin, Boston, Houston, and Rhode Island welcomed a total of 229 startups. The founders of each of these startups represent innovation at its core: they saw a problem and reframed it as an opportunity to improve the way we all live, work, and play by creating new businesses. By asking “why” or “what if” they’ve started on the extraordinary path to build solutions that tackle sustainability, access to healthcare, new materials, and more. They represent the top startups from over 3,000 applications; they come from 20 countries, more than 30 U.S. states and territories, and 26 industries. Almost 20% of the startups come from outside the United States, and 88% of the US-based startups are headquartered outside of California. Never has it been clearer that the ideas and the talent to bring innovation to life come from all corners of the world. Meet the 45 competition finalists competing for $1M in equity-free cash and prizes here.

Altus Dental + Delta Dental of RI, Amica, Autodesk, Babson, BAE Systems, Boston University, Brandeis, Brex, Carta, Cydan, Dell, Draper, Duane Morris, FM Global, Foley Hoag, First Republic Bank, Freshworks, Fundify, Hasbro, Henkel, ISSNL, Italian Trade Agency, KPMG, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, NSIN, MITRE Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Mitsubishi Electric, NSIN, Mitsui, Motional, NRG, Raytheon, Retail Business Services (RBS), The Boston Foundation, UPS, Winstead, Zendesk  

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



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