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May 11, 2023

Venture Forum and NCMDC receive grants to build startup economy

PHOTOS/MATT WRIGHT Todd Keiller, director of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Office of Technology Commercialization, tries on the headgear from startup In Virtu Data Solutions at The Venture Forum event at WPI in April.

Venture Forum in Worcester and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation in Fitchburg were chosen by the Innovation Institute at the MassTech Collaborative to receive two of its grants to bolster the regional startup economy. 

The institute’s Strong Entrepreneur Ecosystems program, based in Westborough, awarded three grants, totalling $500,000.

Venture Forum received a $200,000 grant, which is intended to fund a comprehensive directory of resources available to entrepreneurs and a calendar of relevant events, according to a Wednesday press release from the MassTech Collaborative. Venture Forum is a community hub for entrepreneurs in Central Massachusetts, and connects business-builders with resources. The organization wants to launch an event and speaker series, featuring success stories and networking opportunities.

“Worcester already has much of the infrastructure in place to support a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, but we haven’t really been able to put all the puzzle pieces together to create a cohesive support system for entrepreneurs,” said Venture Forum executive director Zachary Dutton in the press release.

NCMDC received $100,000 in grant funding to support the manufacturing business community through educational programming relating to management skills and selling opportunities. NCMDC supports job creation and economic development throughout the 27 towns and cities in the North Central region.

An overarching goal of this round of grant funding from Strong Entrepreneur Ecosystems is to close the gap between available programming and programming that members of the community know about, according to the press release. 

“Communities thrive when you have a mix of successful businesses. These grantees each understand the resources in their backyards that will help entrepreneurs get off the ground and ensure startup founders know where to go when they’re ready to launch their idea,” said Patrick Larkin, program executive at the MassTech Collaborative and director of the Innovation Institute in the press release.

The other Massachusetts organization to receive a portion of this year’s grant funding is the Downtown Northampton Association, which was awarded $200,000.

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