About the program
The SBIR Targeted Technologies (START) program helps growing Massachusetts-based companies convert research developed under SBIR and STTR contracts into businesses and jobs in Massachusetts. The START program plays an important role in powering Massachusetts’ Innovation Economy. Since the program’s founding in 2012, START has:
- Provided $25.2 million in grant funding to 100+ deserving SBIR projects
- Helped winning companies raise additional capital of more than $2.5 billion
- Catalyzed employment of over 2500 people in Massachusetts
- Grown the state’s Innovation Economy by supporting companies in Barnstable, Canton, Charlton, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Littleton, Newburyport, Newton, Wakefield, Westford, Wilbraham and Woburn
- Created an ecosystem of 200+ unique companies, reviewers, service providers and advisors to create the next generation of companies to drive Massachusetts’ economy
All START awards are contingent on state funding. The state has fully funded the program each year since its inception in 2012.
How it works
The MassVentures START program was initiated in 2012 to assist Massachusetts-based companies in commercializing technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts.
Each year, the programs awards:
- Ten (10) “Stage I” grants of $100,000 each,
- Five (5) “Stage II” grants of $200,000 each to the most promising “Stage I” winners from last year and
- Two (2) “Stage III” opportunities: up to $500,000 each of seed capital in a commercial spinout (or other commercial arrangement intended to provide a return on investment to MassVentures) from the most successful Stage II companies.
A new crop of Stage I candidates every year perpetuates the cycle.
Important 2021 dates
- February 1: RFP for Stage I applications released
- February 4: Information session for Stage I applicants (recording)
- February 22: Information session for Stage II applicants
- February 23: Information session for Stage I applicants (register here)
- February 28: Stage I applications due
- March 1: RFP for Stage II and III applications released
- March 28: Stage II and III applications due
- March 31: Stage I applicants notified if they are invited to pitch
- April 5: Stage II pitch coaching
- April 6: Stage III pitch coaching
- April 12: Stage I pitch day
- April 14: Stage II pitch day
- April 16: Stage III pitch day
- April 19: All winners notified
- April 29: All signed contracts due
- June 22: Class of 2021 Stages I, II and III online kickoff meeting (funds distribution)
Massachusetts companies that have received a Phase II SBIR or STTR award are eligible to apply for a Stage I START grant provided the Phase II SBIR/STTR was received within the past four years or alternatively, the company has gained either (i) “meaningful commercial traction” for the technology within the past four years or (ii) the technology otherwise remains commercially viable today. (Please see the FAQ section of the website for information on what constitutes “meaningful commercial traction”)
For further details on these requirements, please visit the FAQ section of the START site. Eligibility rules may be changed by MassVentures in its sole discretion.
For information about the SBIR/STTR program, please go to this website.
The START Program Phase I application process is designed to be streamlined and user-friendly. Applicants use an online platform to submit:
- A 1000 word summary of the technology and its commercial potential.
- A “QUAD Chart” highlighting the key information and proposing how the company will spend its grant in the next 12 months
- The cover page to the SBIR Phase II award contract
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS AND SCORING GUIDELINES
Following an initial screening of these written materials by external, independent reviewers, a number of companies will then be invited to make a brief presentation to the START review board and answer questions from the board. Preliminary determinations of START Program Stage I grants will be made, and presenters will be notified of the board’s decision, within a few days of that meeting.
In order to receive any funds under the program, those companies selected on a preliminary basis to receive a Stage I grant will need to:
- Submit additional supporting documents, as a pre-condition to receiving any funding from the program. Interested companies should begin gathering those materials as soon as possible. PLEASE NOTE THAT MASSVENTURES CANNOT ENTER INTO ANY CONFIDENTIALITY OR NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH THIS PROGRAM. However, state law permits MassVentures to maintain as non-public records (a) all commercial and financial information submitted by an applicant for a period of three years and (b) all trade secrets of an applicant for so long as they remain trade secrets
- Enter into an agreement with MassVentures setting forth its rights and obligations under the program. Agreements will be sent to successful companies along with the notice of preliminary selection for a Phase I grant.
THE START PROGRAM IS COMPETITIVE AND MASSVENTURES HAS FULL DISCRETION AND AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE (1) WHICH COMPANIES, IF ANY, ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE AWARDS UNDER THE PROGRAM AND (2) THE AMOUNTS OF ANY SUCH AWARDS. SUBMISSION OF AN APPLICATION DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE AWARD OR RECEIPT OF ANY AWARD OR OTHER BENEFIT UNDER THE PROGRAM.
From the initial applicant pool, 15-20 companies will be chosen to advance to the next level. These companies will make an oral presentation to the Stage I selection committee, as well as comply with due diligence requirements. The following must be submitted by all applicants selected to make a presentation to the Stage I selection committee:
- The full SBIR Phase II contract or written confirmation of the SBIR federally defined start date issued by the granting agency.
- A list of all company offices and facilities, with addresses
- The names and addresses of all key outsourcing partners (for example, contract R&D/engineering companies or contract manufacturers)
- A list of the names and principal corporate affiliations of the stockholders, directors and officers of the company
- Brief biographies of key management personnel
- A brief description of any facts or circumstances (such as agreements, claims, disputes or other factors) that might in the future impact the company’s ability to freely commercialize the technology; such as: any funding, partnership or collaboration agreements that grant any current or future rights or options in the technology to any third party, any licenses relating to the technology, any non-competition agreements relating to the technology, any claims by any person or entity asserting any rights in the technology, or any material pending or threatened litigation against the company
- A brief description of any funds from any source other than the MassVentures’ START program and the SBIR program that are being used to commercialize the technology
- A brief description of any objections the applicant has to the START Phase I contract template
- A copy of any slides that the applicant intends to use in its presentation to the START program Advisory Board
Further details will be provided with notification of advancement.
Companies selected to receive a Stage I grant will also be required to submit the following materials as a precondition to receipt of any funds:
- Current Certificates of Good Standing (issued in the 2020 calendar year) from the (i) Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and (ii) the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
- Such additional information as MassVentures reasonably requires to determine that the company has sufficient rights to commercialize the intellectual property in question.
All materials submitted that the company considers to be trade secrets must be clearly labeled as such by the company prior to submission.