Second Annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge set for Wednesday

April 17, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Student finalists from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will pitch their original and inventive ideas to area business leaders on Wednesday, April 18, at the culmination of the College’s Second Annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, which aims to match entrepreneurial students with resources and networking opportunities that will help them to make their ideas a reality.
In addition to a $10,000 prize and a funded, 10-week internship, winning students will receive advising and space to continue the development of their proposed idea from a local incubator, Lever, Inc., a center for entrepreneurship and social innovation based in North Adams.
This competition, to be held at 5:30 p.m. in MCLA’s Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, room 121, is free and open to the public. It is made possible by the Feigenbaum Fund, and Jack and Susy Wadsworth.
This year’s proposals include a cross-platform digital mental health counseling application; a non-profit organization aimed at promoting awareness of and research for polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis; an organization focused on youth development; and a performing arts booking and promotion agency.
The finalists will be selected from about a dozen teams slated to participate in the Challenge.
According to Zachary Feury ’16, project coordinator for the Feigenbaum MCLA Leads Initiative, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge is a unique opportunity.
“The Challenge provides students with an opportunity to explore the actualization of their ideas by connecting them with mentors drawn from the regional business and non-profit communities, while it provides them with a tailored curriculum that reinforces MCLA’s liberal arts mission,” Feury said. “We are deeply grateful to the contributions of our funders and MCLA’s faculty, staff, and students, who make this Challenge possible.”
Participants in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge will be coached through a series of deliverables, including an idea abstract, a pitch deck, a business model canvas and a business plan, before they pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.
Participating students will be invited to attend workshops on topics related to innovation and entrepreneurship, and to meet experienced investors, entrepreneurs and leaders of local community organizations in mentorship-style gatherings. These events serve to connect students to the people best equipped to help them succeed.
Judges for the competition include Lorraine Jones, Nancy Schulman and Tim Burke.
Jones, a Pittsfield-based entrepreneur, is the founder of 92nd Street Sauce, a company that produces Smokey Diva’s barbecue sauce—a three-generations-old family recipe. In a short period of time, she grew an idea based on an old family recipe into a revenue-producing company, here in the Berkshires.
Shulman is a senior business advisor with the Berkshire Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. In her role with the MSBDC, she advises Berkshire County small business owners and entrepreneurs on the development and administration of their businesses.
As the managing director of Mill Town Capital, Burke is responsible for sourcing and leading start-up investments and partnering with entrepreneurs on concept exploration and company formation. He also works with community organizations to support Mill Town’s local involvement.
For more information, visit or contact MCLA LEADS Project Coordinator Zachary Feury, (413) 662-5116, or
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.
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