START Program Winners Announced!

by MVStaff

MassVentures, the early-stage venture capital firm focused on fueling the innovation economy in Massachusetts, announced today the 2014 START Stage III program winners. Each has received a $400,000 grant to help grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.  The winners of the Stage III awards are:


Artaic combines modern robotic technology and design software to make custom tile mosaics affordable and accessible for designers and architects. Boston, MA

Energid Technologies

An ultra-lightweight robotic manipulator, trainable by anyone. With a humanoid structure and powerful control software, it provides large and small manufacturers with a turnkey cost-effective solution. Cambridge, MA

Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks learns from nature to develop new organisms that produce natural ingredients for the fragrance, flavor, energy and pharmaceutical industries. Boston, MA

START is a $6 million initiative funded by the Patrick Administration and administered by MassVentures to help growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts.

In total, MassVentures has awarded $6,000,000 of START funds to 27 technology companies.  The first two years’ companies have grown revenues by 20% and have or will soon leverage their START grants to secure an additional $24,000,000 in funding.

Revenue Growth: 20%

Job Growth: 26

Leverage: $24 million

Revenue, Job Growth and Additional Funding

In addition to this funding, the START program has served an equally impactful purpose in Massachusetts, that of bringing together an ecosystem of companies, expert reviewers, service providers and advisers who have helped make the program a success. The program has also reached a more diverse group of companies than typical early stage funding: six of the 27 winners and $1.7 million of the $6 million have gone to companies led by women.

“Massachusetts receives more funding to the SBIR program per capita than any other state. The START program has proven to support small business by providing funding, guidance and connections to help our mass of scientific founders turn technology into companies that will grow and stay here in Massachusetts,” said Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. “Congratulations to the 27 companies that have benefited from the success of the program, we look forward to their future success.”

“In total, the START program has created an ecosystem of 200+ unique companies, reviewers, service providers and advisors to create the next generation of successful Massachusetts technology companies,” said Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures. “MassVentures is pleased to have driven the program’s success and are pleased for the continued support from the State to support initiatives such as these that help drive economic growth.”

Quotes from our winners:

“It’s great to see MassVentures supporting some of the underserved industries in the technology sector in Massachusetts. We are honored to be selected as a START Stage III award winner from such a competitive field of applicants. ” said Ted Acworth, CEO and Founder of Artaic. “With the support of our START funds, Artaic has grown revenue 1,483% in the past three years, tripled our staff in the past 18 months, while designing and producing beautiful mosaics for clients at our home in Boston, as well as across Massachusetts, the US and abroad.”

“START funding has enabled Energid to secure high-profile strategic partners, add beta sites, accelerate marketing and refine our robot hardware and software,” adds Neil Tardella, CEO and Co-founder of Energid. “We are encouraged that MassVentures shares our vision for light, affordable, safe, and smart enough robots to be used by anyone. With the funding, we have recently added a critical, new employee in Massachusetts and are looking forward to growth in the new year as we launch our next generation of robots.”

“Ginkgo Bioworks has used START funds to accelerate our business development activities. In the short time since we received the funds, Ginkgo signed multiple new customers covering several new products,” stated Reshma Shetty, Co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks.  “We’re very grateful for all the tremendous support from the MassVentures’ START program and look forward to growing our company here in Massachusetts.”

For more details on the program, eligibility requirements and the application and granting process for 2015, CLICK HERE.

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