TVF member Barb Finer, founder of the new science and technology accelerator, TechSandBox, was featured in the MetroWest Daily News on October 14. She discussed the impetus for creating the Hopkinton-based business and credited TVF interim director Gina Betti with helping her finalize the name. “Brainfood center” sounded too much like a food company, she told Finer.
Read full article here: http://www.metrowest.org/pages/TechSandBox/
Software testing firm uTest has been named the 2013 Private Company of the Year by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. Subject of a January 2009 case presentation at the WPI Venture Forum, the company has raised $37.5 million in venture funding, a recent Worcester Business Journal article noted. uTest moved its headquarters from Southborough to Framingham in September, and has additional offices in Cambridge, San Mateo, California and Seattle, Washington. Its 130 employees and a global network of contractors conduct software testing for web, mobile and desktop applications.
The incubator and innovation center founded by TVF member Barb Finer earlier this year has moved from its initial location in Southborough to a more permanent home in Hopkinton. Designed to support science and technology entrepreneurs, TechSandBox offers a central gathering point in MetroWest for co-working, seminars and networking events.
Originally sited in Becker College’s satellite facility, the non-profit center moved in mid-September to 8,700 square feet in the Hopkinton Innovation Park.
Longtime sponsor Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, which supported the 2013 Business Plan Contest, has opened new offices in Boston. In addition to their offices in Concord, Massachusetts, the intellectual property law firm is now located at 155 Seaport Boulevard in Boston’s growing Innovation District. A company announcement noted that the new offices will enable the firm to better serve international clients and litigators will have closer access to the federal courthouse.
The Venture Forum (TVF), a Worcester-based organization that supports technology and life sciences entrepreneurs, is accepting business plan entries for its 2013 Business Plan Contest (BPC) this fall.
The BPC is designed to create opportunities for area life sciences and technology entrepreneurs to have their start-up plans critiqued and polished through a rigorous competition, according to TVF. Winners receive an award package including cash and in-kind services, which have reached more than $10,000 in value in prior contests, TVF said in a statement.
Those interested in registering can visit TVF here to apply. The first round of the contest will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In the initial phase, contestants will deliver their business plans to a group of judges.
Finalists will be selected and offered guidance ahead of the BPC's premier event on November 12, where a winner and other awardees will be announced. The location has yet to be determined.
TVF is also looking for judges and sponsors for this year's event. Those interested can e-mail Lori Jones at BPC@TheVentureForum.org.
See full article here.
Steven Jones-D’Agostino, GoLocalWorcester Business/News Contributor
This February, The Venture Forum was spun out of the WPI Venture Forum, which began in 1990 and will now be phased out. The new non-profit organization calls itself “a community of science and technology entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs ready to learn, launch and grow in the Metrowest and Worcester region.” (Intrapreneurs are employees of a business or organization who possess the entrepreneurial spirit.)
Like the old Venture Forum, the new one is a virtual organization, with no paid staff and office space. The new Forum also has 40 to 60 volunteers, the ability to hire people on a contract basis and an undisclosed annual budget.
Through the new Forum, both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are able to “access sound ideas, solid advice, and a wider network.” This, according to the Forum, is designed to “hasten the path to success for innovative entrepreneurs and to promote the overall business environment” in our region.
The new Forum’s events, which are open to the public, feature volunteer business professionals and educators who assist start-up companies “that are the lifeblood of our emerging regional community.” Attendees include entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, investors, manufacturers, service providers, researchers, inventors, and college and university students, faculty and alumni.
Mirick O’Connell, a founding sponsor of the WPI Venture Forum, is a current sponsor of The Venture Forum. Call it a case of enlightened self-interest for the full-service Worcester law firm.
“We believe that sponsoring The Venture Forum supports both the Central [Mass.] and Metrowest community in which our offices and clients are located as well as the technology entrepreneurial community with which many of our attorneys and clients are involved,” states Brian Dingman, a Mirick O’Connell partner.
This sort of self-interest is just what Paul Danis is looking for more of. He’s chair of The Venture Forum as well as founder and principal of Eastwoods Consulting in Boylston, which advises companies on the commercialization of life-science technologies. He began attending WPI Venture Forum meetings in 2006, eventually becoming a board member.
Following are edited highlights of an interview with Danis.
What was the catalyst for spinning The Venture Forum out of the WPI Venture Forum?
The main thing we were looking at was how to grow the Forum. We’d been looking at it for a few years because we felt we had a lot more to provide the community if we could expand. We looked at expanding in a lot of different areas, and one we thought [was important] was to build more relationships in the community more directly. So with that said, we felt the best thing was to spin [the Forum] out of [WPI] to an independent organization … make connections with other organizations in the area – other institutes, other incubators, financial [organizations] – and then start to grow it that way and become more of a centralized hub for [WPI]. …
Is WPI still involved?
Yes, WPI is our founding partner and we do have an agreement with them to maintain a strong relationship, where they still provide some in-kind support as well. We also have a good relationship as far as potentially offering access [by entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs] to some of [WPI’s] people who want to present [financing] cases … and participate on [Forum] panels. … [WPI also] still hosts some of our meetings and that should continue.
What is the main goal in year one that you’re looking to accomplish, that no one else out there is doing either at all or particularly well?
… [O]ne of the big challenges out here in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is that there’s lots of pieces floating around. They’re all kind of going in the same direction but they’re not really connected. So our [goal] initially in the first year is to start to build some connections with these other pieces.
So we’ve got all these entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial silos operating out there, but people aren’t coming out of their respective silos to collaborate with people in other silos.
That’s right. These silos are wonderful, everyone’s pushing hard [and] there’s a lot of effort out there. [The Venture Forum is] trying to make some connections between those [silos] so that when someone at UMass [Memorial Health Care, for example] wants to connect with someone a financial institution, we potentially can be a matchmaker and make those kinds of connections happen for them.
Do you think people in those silos, for the most part, are happy and excited about this opportunity, or are you going to have to drag them kicking and screaming out of their silos in order to collaborate?
We’ve actually been really surprised at the response … . We’ve had very positive response from people who want to become involved because they see as well that there are other areas that they would love to connect with, but they just don’t have a mechanism for that. …
The Venture Forum’s next monthly event, titled Go To Market: Market Sell or Perish – The Most Critical Phase of a Fledgling Business, is set for Tuesday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. in WPI’s Campus Center. The cost is $25 for general attendees. There’s no fee for corporate members and their guests as well as for all other members.
Steven Jones-D’Agostino is chief pilot of Best Rate of Climb: Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media and Radio Production. He produces and hosts The Business Beat weekly radio show for 90.5 WICN.
See the article on GoLocalWorcester
Paul Danis is a past chair of The Venture Forum as well as founder and principal of Eastwoods Consulting in Boylston.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute's WPI Venture Forum has shortened its name to The Venture Forum to reflect what it hopes will be an expanded geographic reach.
The move comes after the group attained not-for-profit status in October, which will allow it to pursue grant opportunities to bolster its revenues from sponsorships, membership fees and WPI's support.
The Venture Forum caters to tech entrepreneurs, investors and service providers in the region. It is housed at WPI and has plenty of alumni members, but anyone can join.
Paul Danis, a Boylston-based life sciences consultant who chairs the group's executive board, said the group will maintain its strong relationship with WPI.
Danis said the changes were driven by a discussion among members of the approximately 20-year-old group about how to have a greater impact.
"We want to expand into MetroWest more," Danis said in a telephone interview today.
The forum hopes to establish new partnerships with colleges, granting agencies and incubators.
Venture Forum board member Barb Finer has been working to establish a tech incubator in the MetroWest area called Tech Sand Box. Danis said the potential for partnership with a group like that is obvious.
"I think what Barb's doing is great," he said. "We'll clearly be interacting with her organization in the future."
The new name will officially take effect at the forum's five-minute pitch contest Feb. 12. Its new website will go live the following day.
See original WBJournal article here.
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