Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Worcester, MA

Worcester, MA

Worcester, aka the ‘Heart of the Commonwealth’ has a history of manufacturing with a growing reputation for entrepreneurship.

Worcester, MA, known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth,” is the second-biggest city both in the state in the entire New England region. The city has a history as a manufacturing center, though the entrepreneurial environment has gained recognition in recent years. Back in 2017, Axios named Worcester one of 10 emerging startup hubs based on data by TechNet and the Progressive Policy Institute.

More recently, the city appeared 41st overall on a 2019 list by Verizon of the most innovative metropolitan areas in the country. In 2018, Worcester was ranked as the 47th-best city for women to start a business by Business.org. As a whole, the state of Massachusetts is also an entrepreneurial hotspot: while it only ranked 36th overall on WalletHub’s 2019 rankings of the best states to start a business, it did finish 7th overall in the “Access to Resources” category.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Worcester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Center for Women and Enterprise – Eastern Massachusetts hosts regular workshops, consultations and more to support area women in business and entrepreneurship.

The Downtown Worcester Collective is a group of entrepreneurs, creatives, makers and other business professionals aiming to invest in and improve the area.

Nearby Westborough Public Library is home to one of many local Krosslink branches. This is a volunteer-driven program aiming to support entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs and other business professionals in the Worcester area can join the Premier Referral Networking Group to make connections and grow their networks.

The Women Business Networking Power Hour group hosts monthly meetings to allow women in business and entrepreneurship to connect.

Funding Options for Women Entrepreneurs: An Improving Ecosystem

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The College of the Holy Cross hosts an annual Entrepreneurship Week, a collection of events and opportunities for students that are interested in entrepreneurship.

The Venture Forum, an organization that supports entrepreneurship around Worcester, hosts events based around business and entrepreneurship.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce hosts regular events, from monthly networking events to an annual business expo to a variety of events aimed at women in business.

As a member of the Worcester Business Resource Alliance, the Worcester Public Library hosts regular business workshops.

 

Startup Competitions:

One of several events during the College of the Holy Cross’ annual Entrepreneurship Week is the Shark Tank Competition, which offers cash and in-kind prizes worth over $50,000.

In addition to offering several awards for entrepreneurial students, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute hosts an annual Elevator Pitch competition.

Worcester State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship hosts a pair of competitions: the Next Big Idea Competition and the DCU Innovation Contest.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Clearly Coworking offers traditional open co-working space, private offices and meeting spaces for rent, with a variety of membership plans available.

Using the building formerly occupied by the now-defunct Running Start co-working space, the Gateway Cowork Center has a wide variety of membership plans.

WorkTable offers traditional co-working with plans of different lengths. Memberships range from a single day to month-to-month plans.

 

Makerspaces:

The Framingham Makerspace offers metal, wood and welding shops as well as a multi-purpose area.

Technocopia is an 11,000 square foot workshop with a number of tools and equipment that hosts regular classes and a weekly open house.

The Worcshop is a large makerspace that focuses on large-scale industrial projects. Also, they provide some business incubation on the side for industrial businesses.

 

Incubators:

HC Launch is a student-run incubator program at the College of the Holy Cross. Student volunteers can offer help or support student-led startups.

Across threw locations, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives is an incubator program that provides laboratory space, equipment and business development services.

As the name suggests, the Worcester Cleantech Incubator works to support promising clean technology companies in the area.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?

 

Accelerators:

The College of the Holy Cross runs a number of programs to support student entrepreneurship, including their Startup Weeks in Boston, Worcester and New York.

With locations across the world but headquartered in Boston, MassChallenge is a collection of accelerator programs with differing focuses.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce runs a program, StartUp Worcester, that supports promising startups in the area.

 

Colleges/Universities:

The College of the Holy Cross’ Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society organizes a number of resources outside of the classroom and a certificate program in entrepreneurship.

Quinsigamond Community College’s main campus offers a 27-credit hour certificate program in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.

By offering several awards, a pitch competition and minors in entrepreneurship as well as social entrepreneurship, WPI manages to support student entrepreneurs.

Students at WSU can participate in a pair of startup competitions or take some of the classes in entrepreneurship offered by the university.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Located down the road in Westborough, Boynton Angels invests in promising technology startups located in a two-hour radius of the city.

The primary goal of Boston’s MassVentures is to help traditionally-overlooked entrepreneurs: those around Massachusetts, first-time founders, and those in unique industries.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

MassLive offers a number of newsletters focusing on both the state as a whole and specific regions, including Worcester and Central MA.

The Telegram & Gazette is a  daily newspaper, offers an online edition and several newsletters with differing focuses.

In addition to traditional subscriptions, the Worcester Business Journal offers the WBJ Daily Report, which contains each day’s biggest business news.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Worcester not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Boston, MA, New York City, NY, Rochester, NY


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.