Friday, July 17, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               

COMMONWEALTH LAUNCHES NEW PARTNERSHIP TO GROW ENTREPRENEURSHIP ON THE SOUTH COAST

MassTech’s Grant to Entrepreneurship for All Will Help Grow Small Businesses, Create Culture of Entrepreneur Mentoring in Region

FALL RIVER – Executives from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative announced a new partnership with the non-profit organization Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) aimed at growing the ranks of entrepreneurs in the South Coast region and helping existing small business owners grow their operations. During the launch event, which took place at the family-owned manufacturer Blount Fine Foods, MassTech announced the establishment of a three-year formal partnership with EforAll to accelerate the growth of an entrepreneurship culture in the South Coast Region.

Through the Innovation Institute at MassTech, the Commonwealth will provide investment and strategy support for EforAll’s efforts, which are expected to include the recruitment and development of local expert mentors, the hiring of program staff, and the hosting of events aimed boosting entrepreneurs such as pitch contests and accelerator classes.

“EforAll isn’t about importing business plans into a region, but rather providing the resources that will help grow creative, locally-sourced ideas into sustainable businesses,” noted Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “As a trusted partner to the Commonwealth, we have seen first-hand how EforAll’s model can help grow a community-centered culture of entrepreneurship, one that we believe can have an immediate positive impact on the growth of new enterprises across the South Coast.”

This announcement builds on the Commonwealth’s previous support for business accelerator programs, such as MassChallenge, and entrepreneur mentoring programs located in regions across Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts entrepreneurs have developed world-changing technologies and processes, helping to drive our economic development and provide good jobs for residents,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “The accelerator programs launched from Boston to the Berkshires have seen real success, and empowering innovators and entrepreneurs on the South Coast using proven mentorship models will produce benefits that ripple across the Commonwealth.”

The event was hosted by Blount Fine Foods, a Fall River-based family-run company that has been in business since 1880.  The launch was attended by numerous business and economic development leaders, executives from leading academic institutions, and key elected officials from the South Coast, including State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D – Westport), who emceed for the event.

“The South Coast is home to many budding entrepreneurs and innovators, and I am thrilled to see what they can accomplish with guidance from the brilliant minds at EforAll, the MassTech Collaborative, and the robust South Coast business community,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport).

The launch event also included a talk by noted technology entrepreneur Desh Deshpande, a founder of the Deshpande Foundation, an organization committed to using “entrepreneurship and innovation as catalysts for sustainable change.” The Foundation is a global philanthropic effort with programs in Canada, India, and the United States, which includes EforAll.

“EforAll represents a way for people who can use some advice, guidance, and encouragement to get their business or non-profit idea started and on a path to success,” said Desh Deshpande “My wife Jaishree and I are excited to see EforAll bring its model to the South Coast region, and we’re gratified that the Innovation Institute of the MassTech Collaborative, with the support of Senator Rodrigues, has chosen to back this expansion through its generous grant.”

Founded in December 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox to initially serve the cities of Lowell and Lawrence, EforAll has supported over 1,000 student and adult entrepreneurs, built a network of 120-plus professionals and entrepreneur mentors, and accelerated the growth of 70-plus early-stage ventures. During that time, EforAll has helped grow new businesses through accelerator programs, pitch contests, panel discussions and entrepreneur sharing sessions, and first in the nation Spanish-language pitch contests (Concurso Pitch - “Lanza Tu Idea”).

David Parker, Executive Director of EforAll, expressed his excitement on the expansion of EforAll’s programs in the South Coast region.   

“EforAll is thrilled to be opening up its second program in the South Coast region,” said Parker. “I know through my many conversations in the area over the past six months that there are thousands of budding entrepreneurs in and around the cities and towns of the South Coast.  EforAll will build a community of mentors, experts, and volunteers to help turn people with great ideas into successful entrepreneurs.”

The three-year partnership will provide EforAll with an award of $346,785 to support its efforts during the first year. As MassTech’s awards are made on an annual basis, with decisions based on the financial resources made available by the Commonwealth, funding for years 2 and 3 of the partnership will be contingent upon support from the Legislature and the Administration. While that funding is not guaranteed, the potential exists for the effort to bring in up to $1 million dollars over the length of the contract. 

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About the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Innovation Institute

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is an innovative public agency working to enhance economic growth, accelerate technology use and adoption, and harness the value of research by engaging in meaningful collaborations across academia, industry, and government.  From improving our health care systems and expanding high-speed internet across the state to fostering emerging industry clusters, MassTech is driving innovation and supporting a vibrant economy across the Commonwealth. 

The Innovation Institute at MassTech was created in 2003 to improve conditions for growth in the innovation economy by enhancing industry competitiveness, promoting conditions which enable growth; and providing data and analysis to stakeholders in the Massachusetts innovation economy that promotes understanding and informs policy development. 

About Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll)

EforAll is a non-profit organization founded in December 2010 with the mission of accelerating economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in the cities of Lowell & Lawrence, Massachusetts. EforAll runs dozens of programs including workshops, pitch contests, entrepreneur meetups, themed mixers, and twice annual accelerator programs. In the last three and a half years, EforAll has helped over 1,000 student and adult entrepreneurs and has seen numerous ventures launched a vegan ice cream business, a customized apparel manufacturing company, and a non-profit that helps juvenile offenders avoid jail time.  EforAll is supported by a pilot grant from the Deshpande Foundation.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Brian Noyes, Senior Communications Manager

Massachusetts Technology Collaborative

noyes@masstech.org

(508) 870-0312 x: 293, C: (206) 755-1509