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January 01, 2016 Likes Comments

MassChallenge chooses Newton for first-in-state expansion

MassChallenge, the world-renowned Boston-based start-up accelerator, is opening a satellite operation in Newton this October in collaboration with the Cambridge Innovation Center and the City of Newton.

The Newton Corner location will be MassChallenge’s first expansion in Massachusetts outside of Boston’s Innovation District. The nonprofit will design programming for entrepreneurs as well as the community at large.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work with MassChallenge to encourage entrepreneurship in Newton while also opening up access to the innovation economy to Newton residents of all backgrounds,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren.

With programs in Boston, Israel and the UK, MassChallenge provides entrepreneurs with mentorship, office space, education, access to a vast network, and other resources during four months of acceleration. Each year the non-profit awards over $2 million in grants to the startups demonstrating the highest impact and highest potential. To date, the 617 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $947 million in funding, generated $485 million in revenue and created 5,105 jobs.

The 5,000-square-foot Newton location at 124 Vernon St. (currently the headquarters for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and the site of the former Newton Corner Library) will house 10-15 startups at a time.

MassChallenge – which was founded by CEO and Newton resident John Harthorne – has also agreed to host interns from the mayor’s summer high school internship program and to conduct workshops for both students and other community groups on business practices, some in conjunction with the Newton Free Library.

“Mayor Warren and Newton are offering an excellent opportunity to help inspire and support more entrepreneurs,” said Scott Bailey, managing director of MassChallenge Boston. “By engaging with the Newton community, we hope to forge more connections and help entrepreneurs launch and grow.”

“This is an extraordinary economic development opportunity for Newton and our efforts to establish the N2 Innovation Corridor and the Charles River Mill District as destinations for innovation-economy sector,” said Greg Reibman, president of the Newton-Needham Chamber. “It also brings focus to Newton Corner, which is already home to a number of growing companies as well as a small restaurant and bar scene.

“We’re thrilled that MassChallenge and the Cambridge Innovation Center recognized the value of setting up their first Massachusetts expansion in Newton.”

Geoff Cramer – co-founder of SocialMadeSimple, a growing start-up headquartered at the Wells Avenue section of the N2 Innovation Corridor and a 2012 MassChallenge alumni – also welcomed the news.

“MassChallenge offered us the amazing opportunity to take a step back for three months, and look at our business from a new angle, with input and advice from a number of amazing mentors,” said Cramer. “That experience led to a pivot in our business model that has since grown SocialMadeSimple from three to 20 employees.”

“As a Newton-based company, we often have felt like an outsider in the Boston startup and innovation scene,” Cramer added. “There are many amazing innovative companies and people living and working in Boston's suburbs who would benefit greatly from easier access to the kinds of opportunities organizations like MassChallenge provide,” said Cramer.

MassChallenge and the city previously discussed opening a branch in Newton Centre. This initiative replaces that prior plan.

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