The world's largest startup accelerator yesterday announced 128 finalists in a wide range of fields, from one company that creates custom ad tech products to another that makes a more efficient, cheaper form of insulation.
This year's MassChallenge class hails from 18 states and 11 countries and will compete for more than $1 million in cash prizes, with no strings attached.
"This is a great opportunity," said Jonathan M. Strimling, founder of New Hampshire-based UltraCell Insulation, which has patented a process for producing insulation from corrugated cardboard. "We hope we can be a winner and help achieve MassChallenge's goal of stimulating the economy."
The finalists were picked from a field of 1,200 applicants over a six-week evaluation process led by hundreds of industry professionals in Boston, as well as dozens in Israel.
"There was a lot of competition and a lot of great ideas," said Doug Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Boston-based Cone Media, which aims to help publishers better monetize their user traffic.
MassChallenge founder and President Akhil Nigam called the class "the highest-quality finalist pool yet."
"These 128 remarkable startups show the economic vitality of the Innovation District and this city," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who yesterday toured District Hall, Boston's new standalone innovation center. "We welcome these bold thinkers and the creative energy they bring."
More than 300 experts volunteered their time as MassChallenge judges to evaluate applicants from 40 countries and 30 states, providing 500,000 words of written feedback during an estimated 3,000 hours of evaluation.
MassChallenge also introduced two new funders, Pfizer and the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, which will join existing sponsors, including Fidelity Investments, Verizon, Deshpande Foundation and Fan Pier.
In June, the finalist companies will convene in Boston to begin the four-month accelerator. The program culminates on Oct. 30 with an award ceremony to distribute the cash prizes.
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