Updated March 23 at 10:23am

2013 MassChallenge finalists include 2 R.I. startups

Two Rhode Island companies – Calista Therapeutics and Cape Commons Brewing Co. – have earned a place among the top 26 startups competing in the 2013 MassChallenge.

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2013 MassChallenge finalists include 2 R.I. startups


BOSTON – Two Rhode Island companies – Calista Therapeutics and Cape Commons Brewing Co. – have earned a place among the top 26 startups competing in the 2013 MassChallenge.

The Boston startup accelerator will award nearly $1.5 million in cash prizes at the 2013 awards ceremony on Oct. 30, when each finalist will have 15 minutes to convince a judging panel that they deserve a share of the winnings.

“These 26 startups embody the quality and enormous collective impact of entrepreneurs participating in this year’s accelerator,” said John Harthorne, MassChallenge founder and CEO, in a release. “We are immensely proud of them, and of all of the 128 Global Finalists, for the tremendous progress they’ve made during the 2013 program and the milestones they’re poised to achieve in the future.”

Lincoln-based Calista Therapeutics is developing proprietary peptide drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, an inherited lung disease afflicting approximately 30,000 people in the United States with a life expectancy of 37. Calista’s drug development team is 12 months from beginning the investigational new drug and clinical trial phase, and projects peak U.S. sales of $1.2 billion.

Cape Commons Brewing Co. aims to build an environmentally friendly closed-loop brewery in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a mission to bring clean water to communities without a secure water source. For every batch of beer brewed, Cape Commons will build one clean-water project through Rainwater for Humanity, a collaboration between Mahatma Gandhi University in India and Brown University students. The brewing company is currently working to build its brewing system and its first rainwater catchment tank in Kerala, India, and hopes to launch the first batch of beer in fall 2014.

Between 10 and 20 finalists will receive a share of the 2013 MassChallenge prize money, typically awarded in amounts of either $50,000 or $100,000. In addition, select members of the 2013 finalist cohort will have a chance to win three sidecar prizes, including:

  • $400,000 from the Center for Advancement of Science in Space – and the opportunity to use the International Space Station National Laboratory – to startups in the areas of life sciences, material and physical sciences, or earth observation and remote sensing technologies

  • $50,000 from the John W. Henry Family Foundation to the startups with the most captivating social impact initiative

  • $25,000 from the Perkins School for the Blind to the startups developing the most impressive device capable of improving the quality of life for the disabled

This year’s panel of judges includes Josh Boger, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, venture capitalist and co-founder of Sycamore Networks; Paul English, co-founder and chief technology officer of Kayak.com; and Laura Sen, president and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Nearly 1,200 applicants applied to the 2013 MassChallenge accelerator, according to a Tuesday release announcing the finalists. From the applicant pool, 128 startups were admitted to the four-month accelerator, and 26 finalists were selected to compete for cash prizes.

The awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 30 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. George T. Whitesides, CEO and president of Virgin Galactic, will deliver the keynote speech, and Aasif Mandvi of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will serve as master of ceremonies.

To register for the event, visit http://masschallenge.org/awards.

To view the full list of 2013 MassChallenge finalists, visit http://masschallenge.org/startups/2013/top26.


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