Berthiaume Center Fellows Prep Award-Winning Startups
June 22, 2017
On May 25, three UMass Amherst-based startups—all recipients of advice and technical assistance from Isenberg School of Management MBA Fellows working through the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship—were among 12 monetary award recipients/graduates of the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator program in Springfield. Now in its third year, the program is an annual four-month intensive “boot camp” that prepares high-potential startups for rapid growth.
The Isenberg-based Berthiaume Center fosters entrepreneurship on the UMass Amherst campus in the classroom and by facilitating startups by students, faculty, and other members of the campus community. In the Isenberg MBA Fellowship Program, Full-time MBA students receive tuition and a stipend for tackling key strategic, programmatic, and operational challenges for the school. The Isenberg Fellows assigned to Berthiaume* forged ties between the region’s investors and campus-based startups. To that end, they worked with the university’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), a “hot spot” of campus innovation in the life sciences.
The three VVM awardees with ties to UMass, including $25,000 first-place winner Genoverde Biosciences, had all developed intellectual property through IALS. To combat global climate change, Genoverde Biosciences genetically engineers trees to increase their capture of carbon dioxide. A second UMass-based winner, Lumme, develops wearable technology and deploys machine learning to effect smoking cessation. And Ernst Pharmaceuticals, a UMass chemical engineering team, programs bacteria to treat metastatic breast cancer.
In his work on behalf of Berthiaume and the VVM winners, Isenberg MBA Fellow Julian Lustig drew on his focus on finance, including his interests in venture capital and socially responsible investments. “Berthiaume’s Bill [Wooldridge], ** Charlie [Johnson], and Birton [Cowden] were all terrific mentors,” he emphasized. “They helped me to find a way that supports their vision—call it a startup for startups.”
Additional Ties with Berthiaume
“Genoverde Biosciences CEO Michael Harrington and I co-taught the UMass course Lean Launch Pad in both the fall and spring semesters,” observes Birton Cowden, Berthiaume’s Director of New Ventures. “In addition, Lumme was a finalist in our 2016 Innovation Challenge business plan competition.”*** Berthiaume coordinates the annual campus-wide event, which awards $65,000 in seed money to its finalists.
“Isenberg has been a multiyear VVM sponsor,” Cowden continues. “Over the last two years,” he adds, “I have been a mentor to VVM’s accelerator program. The bottom line,” he emphasizes, “is that Berthiaume and like-minded resources are creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is elevating opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus in in our economic region.”