HAVERHILL — The city, along with local business leaders and Northern Essex Community College, will launch a competition to promote the benefits of doing business in Haverhill.
Lightspeed Manufacturing, a local circuit board developer with an international client base, is leading the effort.
Hardware startup companies with creative ideas and limited resources are invited to enter the Lightspeed Challenge. The competition is modeled after MassChallenge, an annual $1 million global startup competition and accelerator program. The Lightspeed Challenge is being held in partnership with local government groups, business organizations and Northern Essex Community College.
The winner will receive up to a half dozen free printed circuit board versions of the idea, culminating with a working prototype. Finalists will share $10,000 in cash, access to Lightspeed’s design services and production facility, access to free and discounted work space at the Burgess Business Center Incubatorlocated in the Burgess Building in downtown Haverhill, and free consultation and connections to supply chain resources for production.
Everyone who enters the competition will receive free workshops and mentoring on topics such as business, finance, marketing, and technology.
“Our goal is to lower the barrier for hardware startups by providing contestants with a wide range of services and incentives to enhance their chance for success,” said John Michitson, president of the City Council and an electrical engineer with the MITRE Corporation.
Michitson said while software startup competitions are fairly common, hardware competitions are rare.
“The next best thing in Silicon Valley may be hardware,” he said. “A lot of people believe hardware is the new frontier.”
Contest organizers hope to attract 15 to 20 contestants and believe the sky is the limit as far as ideas. Some recent hardware innovations include a lockable and encrypted USB drive, a guitar with an integrated iPhone that anyone can play, a touch screen tablet “carputer,” sensors in a smart phone, and clothes that monitor location, context and environment.