MassChallenge, probably the best startup competition in the world

On January 31 the White House celebrated the MassChallenge Startup Competition and Accelerator as one of the most promising initiatives in the USA for supporting entrepreneurs and announced MassChallenge as a partner in the new Startup America Partnership, an independent entity co-funded by the Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate once more time high-growth entrepreneurship. But, what makes MassChallenge so special?

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Guest posting at

I’m trilled to announce that I have recently started guest posting at TheSTARTUP European Startups, European Entrepreneurs of @stefanobernardi. Stefano is a brilliant Italo-French guy. He works as investment analyst at dPixel Venture Capital, the leading italian early-stage venture capital firm.  He also sits on the Board of Directors of Startup Commons and is the Italian Ambassador for Sandbox, the closed network of under-30 overachievers.  At the moment, he is also working on, a web-based deal flow and portfolio management application for business angels and small VC funds initially developed for his BSc thesis in computer and software engineering.

Not surprisingly, I will write about the start-up and entrepreneurship world. However, the style will always be the same: bringing facts and figures rather than mere opinions. The first post wants to report  an analysis of Kauffman Foundation finding out that jobs created by startup ventures are not as volatile as it is generally thought. In fact, they are remarkably durable. To know more details and go to the article, you can click here.

When MIT tells how to create your own ecosystem, Part II

At the MIT ILP Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series we learnt how to create an ecosystem like they have in Boston.

In Part I, we have already seen what Educational Institutions, State & Local Initiatives and Entrepreneurship Support could or should do.

Stata Center, MIT / 20090801.10D.50908 / SML

Other important elements are:

  • Competitions. In Boston there is a competition for everyone. Are you a student? Have you got just what you think is a brilliant idea and you would like to test it in front of an audience and eventually to team up with other folks? Maybe, you have already created a team and have already built something to show. In the best case scenario, you have got a team, a prototype and a business plan too. Great, join the 100K competition. They have elevator pitch contest, executive summary context and, of course, the flagship business plan contest. It is 100% student-run (50 people involved) and 100% sponsor-funded. They claim 120 companies and 2500 jobs created so far. If you are not a student any longer, you may have your start-up. MassChallenge claims to be  the world’s largest global start-up competition. You do not need to originate or headquarter in Massachusetts. You enter the competition and receive access to training, mentors, executives, other team members and sources of funding. You win and receive cash prizes and will qualify for privileged access to funding sources. It starts in Spring 2010.

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When MIT tells how to create your own ecosystem, Part I

Last November I had the chance to do a study tour at MIT. I attended the 2009 Research and Development Conference and the probably more interesting MIT ILP Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series.  Here, I will report about the latter, even though it was terrific to listen to leading scientists such as Daniel Nocera and Angela Belcher. In fact, the aim of the workshop was to tell the audience how it could be possible to re-create somewhere else the Boston eco-system, i.e. that environment “fostering Innovation and encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation”.

Dome alight

According to MIT, there are several elements needed to create and to make such an environment  self-sustaining. The most important are probably:

  • Educational institutions such as MIT. Well, they claim, their students, graduates, researchers and professors are more than encouraged to create companies based on their activities in classes or labs. That could sound a bit kind of conceited, but let me give you some (amazing) numbers: in February 2009 there were 25,800 currently active companies founded by MIT alumni, they employed 3.3 milion people, their revenues would make the 17th largest economy in the world and their annual sales even the 11th. But, why does it happen? Well, this could probably be discussed in the next coming posts, if you wish. For now,  you can download the executive summary of the research giving these figures in the widget on your right: MIT_Kauffman_Report.pdf.