• Courtesy of MassChallenge

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  • MIT PhD student John R. Lewandowski (fourth from left) accepts a $100,000 grand prize with the rest of his team at Wednesday night's MassChallenge awards ceremony.

    MIT PhD student John R. Lewandowski (fourth from left) accepts a $100,000 grand prize with the rest of his team at Wednesday night's MassChallenge awards ceremony.

    Courtesy of MassChallenge

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  • SQZ Biotech, winner of a $100,000 MassChallenge grand prize, includes MIT alumni Jonathan Gilbert (fourth from left), Harrison Bralower (fifth from left), Armon Sharei (sixth from left), and Agustin Lopez Martinez (seventh from left).

    SQZ Biotech, winner of a $100,000 MassChallenge grand prize, includes MIT alumni Jonathan Gilbert (fourth from left), Harrison Bralower (fifth from left), Armon Sharei (sixth from left), and Agustin Lopez Martinez (seventh from left).

    Courtesy of MassChallenge

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MIT startups win big at MassChallenge

In annual competition, 12 MIT-affiliated teams earn grants and prizes to launch their businesses.


Press Contact

Abby Abazorius
Email: abbya@mit.edu
Phone: 617-253-2709
MIT News Office

On Wednesday night, 12 MIT-affiliated startups that participated in this year’s MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator, took home top prizes — ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 — from the program’s annual awards ceremony.

This year, MassChallenge accepted 128 startups for its accelerator program, which began in June. But only 26 finalists — selected by a panel of judges — pitched their business plans for competition at MassChallenge’s awards ceremony; 21 of those earned awards.

Of those winners, 12 were MIT-affiliated startups, with at least one founding member who is an MIT professor, student, or recent alumnus: Two captured the $100,000 “diamond” grand prize, eight earned $50,000 “gold” prizes, and four others won various “side-car” prizes of $10,000 or $25,000.

Winners of the awards competition, held at the Boston Expo and Convention Center, split a total of $1.75 million in grants, and received more than $10 million in “in-kind deals,” which include legal advice, marketing and media support, and deals in Web and manufacturing services, among other things.

In its five-year history, MassChallenge has helped launch a number of MIT spinouts, including Tinfoil Security, which exploits hacker tricks to make websites more secure; PK Clean, which is developing a system to break down nonrecyclable plastics into oil; Sanergy, which manufactures and delivers toilets to African slums with poor sewerage infrastructure; and LiquiGlide, which is developing a nonstick, nontoxic coating for condiment bottles that prevents the condiments from sticking  to the sides on the way out.

According to the accelerator’s website, a total of 617 startups have gone on to raise more than $700 million in funding, create more than 4,800 jobs, and generate more than $400 million in revenue.

Speakers at Wednesday night’s event included Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who spoke on the impact of startups, and Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who discussed his company’s origins. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was also on hand.

The winning MIT-affiliated startups are:

$100,000 diamond winners

SQZ Biotech: Based on research from MIT labs, the startup has invented a microfluidics system that can “squeeze” molecules into cells for easy and efficient molecule-delivery. (SQZ Biotech was also awarded a CASIS/Boeing Prize for Technology in Space, and will split $775,000 with two other winners.) MIT affiliates are Armon Sharei PhD ’13; Agustin Lopez Marquez SM ’10; Jonathan Gilbert SM ’11, PhD ’14; Harrison Bralower, ’11, SM ’13; Katarina Blagovic, a researcher at the David H. Koch Institute for Cancer Research; Institute Professor Robert Langer; and Klavs Jensen, the Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Disease Diagnostics Group: Developing a magnetic-based malaria detector that can diagnose the disease faster and more accurately than traditional methods. The MIT affiliate is John R. Lewandowski, a PhD student in mechanical engineering.

$50,000 gold winners

Dropwise: Invented a durable hydrophobic coating for power-plant condensers, with aims of saving millions of dollars in fuel and thousands of tons of carbon dioxide annually. MIT affiliates are Adam Paxson ’09, SM ’11, PhD ’14; David Borrelli, SM ’11, PhD ’14; Kripa Varanasi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Karen Gleason, professor of chemical engineering and associate provost of MIT.

Oncolinx: Developing advanced cancer therapeutics that have fewer side effects. MIT affiliate is Allen Lin ’11, SM ’11.

Anfiro: Making an ultra-permeable membrane for water purification that significantly reduces cost and energy requirements of operations. The MIT affiliate is Jaime Mateus SM ’08, PhD ’11.

Ashton Instruments: Using novel sensors to make more affordable cycling power meters, which measure power output of a rider. The MIT affiliate is James Schulmeister, a PhD student in mechanical engineering.
 

Cam Med LLC: Designing a soft, flexible, bandage-like patch pump for delivery of one or multiple medications simultaneously. (Cam Med LLC was also awarded a CASIS/Boeing Prize for Technology in Space, and will split $775,000 with two other winners.) The MIT affiliate is Zhifei Ge SM ’13.

Gecko Health Innovations: Developing sensors that easily attach to inhalers, so patients can automatically log real-time information from their inhalers. MIT affiliates are Yechiel Engelhard MBA ’12, and Mark Maalouf MBA ’12.

Other prizes

Lengio: Awarded the $25,000 Perkins Prize for Assistive Technology. MIT affiliates are Kamran Khan ’14 and Diego Villegas MBA ’13.

Artlifting: Awarded the $10,000 Henry Prize for Social Impact. The MIT affiliate is Spencer Powers, an MBA student.

Astra IDentity, Inc. and Car Know: Named winners of the $25,000 MassIT Government Innovation Competition. The MIT affiliate for Astra IDentity is Gagan Prakash MBA ’11; the MIT affiliate for Car Know is Josh Siegel, a PhD student in mechanical engineering.


Topics: Alumni/ae, Awards, honors and fellowships, Cambridge, Boston and region, Contests and academic competitions, Entrepreneurship, Industry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Startups, Students

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