MassChallenge offers space to laid-off tech workers

MassChallenge offers space to laid-off tech workers

The state’s largest startup accelerator is opening its doors to tech workers who have been recently laid off and are interested in giving entrepreneurship a shot.

MassChallenge CEO Cait Brumme said in an interview last week that her team has been watching the day-by-day announcements around downsizings within the tech sector, which in recent weeks have impacted thousands of workers in Greater Boston. Right before Thanksgiving, a decision was made.

“Let’s see who comes in the door,” she said. “Even during hard times, people have brilliant ideas that can impact the world.”

MassChallenge, which was founded in 2009 during the Great Recession, called its initiative Tech Innovator Residency Program.

Starting in January, the accelerator plans to give selected workers access to its 21,000-square-foot headquarters on Boston’s Fan Pier Boulevard. The idea is to give folks who recently have lost their jobs resources to help them pursue their business ideas, starting with a place to go and rub elbows with other entrepreneurs.

“We have Wi-Fi, mediocre coffee, you know, desks, which are actually excellent, and all that good stuff,” Brumme joked.

Both MassChallenge’s fintech program, which counts 30 to 40 startups, and its carbon-removal program, with 10 more ventures, are active next month. And in next year’s second quarter, the health-tech program is scheduled to kick off.

Selected applicants will be given free access during regular business hours for six months; whoever wants 24/7 access can purchase a $20 key card.

Acceptance priority will be given to people who have been laid off, but Brumme pointed out that the initiative wants to be supportive of the general needs of the Boston ecosystem and doesn’t have very strict guidelines. She did not say how many people will be selected, but pointed out that there are about 120 desks at MassChallenge.

The best possible near-term outcome of the initiative, according to Brumme, is simply that people take advantage of the offered space by exploring the opportunity to launch a business with others.

“Fast forward, what would be awesome is to see a couple of them actually take the leap to start a business,” she said. “Even better? If our small act of kindness could launch the next Airbnb or Slack.”

The call for applications is open, and the accelerator plans to notify selected folks in early January.

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