MassChallenge Awards $510K to Eight Startups in Texas Accelerator

Austin—[Updated 2:11 p.m. See below.] MassChallenge gave out $510,000 in cash to eight startups Wednesday, including to six early stage companies from Texas.

During an award ceremony in Austin, two hometown companies won $100,000 each, the top awards of the night. Environmental Quality Operations, or EQO, has developed a bioengineered diagnostic technology to “detect, monitor, and eradicate” invasive aquatic species. And Sempulse is developing a device that attaches to a person’s ear and can monitor the person’s vital signs quickly, a process that the company hopes can be used in triage and emergency medical situations.

Also of note: from nearby San Antonio, a preclinical life sciences startup, NovoThelium, which won a $75,000 prize for its technology that uses nipple tissue from cadavers that, after old DNA and cells are removed, can be used in patients who are having a breast reconstructed. As Xconomy reported last year, NovoThelium was working through animal testing on its product and considering a human trial.

Another Austin-based company, Cloud 9, won $75,000 for its mental and behavioral health cloud software that lets users video chat with health care providers, track their mental health, and access health records.

Unlike typical accelerator programs, MassChallenge doesn’t take an equity stake in the companies in exchange for the investment. The nonprofit group was founded in Boston in 2009, and opened a program in Austin last year. The acelerator was open to startups from anywhere, and MassChallenge selected 84 in the Austin inaugural class. After the four-month program, it picked 16 of the top companies as potential winners of a portion of the $510,000 in awards. [Updated throughout to clarify that all awards given, totaling $510,000, were cash.]

The five other startups, which collectively won $160,000 worth of funding, are:

—Augmenta, a Greek company that uses machine vision and learning for applying fertilizer and pesticides to crops;

—Austin-based GrubTubs, which aims to turn restaurants’ food waste into animal feed;

—Popspots, another Austin company that has a technology for grocery stores;

—Washington, DC-based The Mentor Method, which has software focused on mentorship and diversity;

—and Houston-based startup, a 3D printing company focused on recycling called Re:3D.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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