More than 3,000 startups across the world applied to the 2021 MassChallenge accelerator program with Olathe-based biotechnology lab Ronawk earning one of the 229 slots to participate, shared A.J. Mellott.
“[MassChallenge] has a really good reputation for accelerating companies that are in the startup mode and growing,” said Mellott, who co-founded Ronawk in 2019 with fellow scientist Heather Decker. “We’re given access to a wide network of mentors, resources and investors, along with helping companies in refining the pitch.”
The 229 invited startups represent the best of innovation and entrepreneurship from around the globe, wrote Cait Brumme, the senior vice president of MassChallenge Early Stage.
“The founders of each of these startups represent innovation at its core: they saw a problem and reframed it as an opportunity to improve the way we all live, work, and play by creating new businesses,” she shared on the accelerator’s website. “… Never has it been clearer that the ideas and the talent to bring innovation to life come from all corners of the world.”
Ronawk represents Kansas as the only startup from the Sunflower State in the 2021 cohort. Relay Trade in KCMO joins Ronawk in representing the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
Click here to read why Ronawk was listed as one of Startland News’ 10 Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021.
From the accelerator, Mellott and Decker hope to connect to other metropolitan areas with parallel research that might provide more insight into Ronawk’s state-of-the art technology, Tissue Blocks (T-Blocks) — which allow for researchers to rapidly expand the growth of cells.
“We’re hoping this program helps us gain access to national advisors who are in Texas, Boston and San Francisco,” Mellott noted. “Also — the big thing is we’re hoping to gain more exposure outside of Kansas City.”
Watch a video below of Mellott’s interview from Startland News’ Startups to Watch interview special, then keep reading.
The MassChallenge cohort is broken down into various groups, based on geographical location. Ronawk is participating in the Houston program. Other programs include Austin, Rhode Island and Boston.
News of the accelerator follows Ronawk’s announcement of plans to launch a STEM training facility amidst expanding their team.
Click here to read more about how Ronawk plans to create 150 jobs over the next seven years.
The MassChallenge Accelerator concludes Oct. 28, 2021, with a startup showcase and awards ceremony.
“It’s an intensive accelerator program, so Heather and I are definitely tag-teaming it,” Mellott said. “But we are really excited for what’s to come.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.