Jun 8, 2022 - Business

Boston startup accelerator MassChallenge officially has a new CEO

MassChallenge CEO poses for a picture, wearing a green dress and large necklace.

Photo courtesy of MassChallenge

MassChallenge named Cait Brumme its new CEO Wednesday, cementing her transition to lead the nonprofit startup accelerator.

Driving the news: Brumme, who joined the nonprofit three years ago, took the helm as interim CEO in January after longtime chief executive Siobhan Dullea stepped down.

  • Now, as the organization's permanent leader, Brumme wrote in her announcement that MassChallenge will double down on its commitment to tackling "generation-defining challenges" in sustainable food systems, health, climate, finance and security.

Why it matters: 12-year-old MassChallenge has helped develop some of the biggest names in the Boston-area innovation sector, including life sciences company, Ginkgo Bioworks, which reached a valuation of over $1 billion and went public last year.

  • "We run on innovation, and I like to think of entrepreneurs as really the heartbeat of innovation," Brumme said in an interview with Axios, referring to Greater Boston's tech sector, "and so our commitment and our goal is to help continue to support entrepreneurship."

Brumme, who had worked with Dullea before her departure to map out this year's strategy, said she dove headfirst into the interim role to ensure a smooth transition as the accelerator prepared to support more than 600 startups.

  • "There was no way we were going to let the first quarter slow us down with any pause," said Brumme, 37, of Newton.

What's next: Here's what Brumme and the executive team see in store for MassChallenge.

  • Brumme is looking at extending support for climate and sustainability startups as they move into later stages and expanding their presence in MassChallenge overall.
  • Starting this year, all startups that go through MassChallenge will participate in curriculum around climate awareness and, ideally, climate resiliency to help startups build more sustainable companies from the beginning, Brumme said.

Plus: MassChallenge recently hired Damon Cox, formerly the state's assistant secretary for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, as the head of next practice and inclusive growth.

  • He will be tasked with researching emerging technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency, focusing on what impact the technology could have on consumer access to financial services

What they're saying: "[Brumme] is visibly passionate about our mission and unapologetic in her belief we can and must do more," said Mo Cowan, former U.S. senator and a member of the MassChallenge board, in a statement to Axios.

The bottom line: Expect to see more from MassChallenge the next couple of years, at least on the cleantech and fintech fronts.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Cox's role with MassChallenge.


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