By Nathan Lee, Business Correspondent
The world’s largest startup accelerator and competition, MassChallenge, is officially accepting applications until 1 April for its first annual programme in London.
Between 60-80 selected startups will participate in a four-month programme, at the end of which a total of £500k is awarded to the top startups, with no equity taken. Any early stage startup can enter MassChallenge UK from any industry, from anywhere in the world. Accepted startups will go through the accelerator programme starting at the end of June and going through October at Tobacco Dock in London.
MassChallenge UK provides entrepreneurs with the resources and opportunities to help them succeed, including expert mentorship, free office space and in-kind products and services, and access to a global network of resources. At the end of the programme, the startups with the highest impact and potential will be awarded a share of £500k in cash awards with no equity taken – the top award being £50k.
Based on the hugely successful MassChallenge model developed in Boston, the UK has been chosen as the first site for a full-scale accelerator programme outside of the United States and is in its first year of operation. The 617 startups that have completed MassChallenge Boston since its first programme in 2010 have raised over $706 million in funding, generated $404 million in revenue and created over 4,800 jobs.
One of its most successful alumni companies is Handy.com, an American company, that joined forces with UK-based Mopp.com to become a transatlantic “Uber for house work”, raising over $45.7 million USD and growing rapidly. MassChallenge has success stories in all industries from – biotechnology to social enterprise – and a full list of alumni can be found on the website.
Founder and CEO John Harthorne developed MassChallenge as a way to support entrepreneurs who create value for society without taking anything from them. To make this possible, MassChallenge is funded by corporate, public, and foundation partners. MassChallenge UK is supported by Mayor Boris Johnson, 10 Downing Street and Tech City UK, and is sponsored by NatWest, Unilever, Visa Europe and others.
“Ever since Prime Minister David Cameron invited us to launch MassChallenge UK, we’ve had great opportunities to connect with innovation leaders throughout Britain,” said MassChallenge CEO John Harthorne. “Thanks to the support of hundreds of entrepreneurs and partners, MassChallenge UK is well positioned to provide startups equity-free access to the resources they need to launch in London and grow globally.”
Patrick Donovan, the Managing Director of Tobacco Dock, agreed: “MassChallenge is set to grow into Europe’s most successful and high profile business accelerator programme. The Dock is supporting MassChallenge because we believe that the programme will be a huge success in the UK and Europe and will be the perfect partner in developing our vision for The Dock as London’s most iconic co-working space.”
The final application deadline for all three programmes in Boston, UK, and Israel is 1 April, 2015. Apply at masschallenge.org/accelerator