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Whiskey Coffee, Immigration, AI: MassChallenge’s New Austin Cohort

Xconomy Texas — 

Austin—MassChallenge has picked the 74 early-stage companies that will eventually compete for a portion of $500,000 in cash as a part of its Austin accelerator program. They’re startups that are developing products in a wide range of sectors, including life sciences, agriculture, and artificial intelligence.

A majority of the startups are from Texas, although some come from elsewhere in the US and world, including California, Virginia, Mexico, and Israel. Many of the founders are women: 56 percent, according to MassChallenge, which is funded by a wide variety of private and public groups. Starting in June, the companies that have been selected will go through four months of accelerator programming. In October, MassChallenge, which doesn’t take any equity stake in exchange for participation in the program, will pick the winners of the cash prizes, often based on factors like the impact or trajectory of the startup.

Last year, eight startups received a portion of $510,000 in cash, including two from Austin that took away $100,000 each. MassChallenge, which was founded in Boston in 2009, also opened a Houston program this year.

We’re not going to list all 74 of the startups selected for the Austin accelerator, but here’s a few that highlight the wide variety of sectors they touch:

—For people who have difficulty putting on their clothing independently, AdaptaFit is a Dallas-based business that aims to help by modifying a person’s clothes with magnets in place of buttons and zippers.

—Aliro Immigration of San Diego, CA, aims to help people accurately prepare and file immigration applications online.

—Avirtek is a Tucson, AZ-based cybersecurity company that is developing technology that uses software and hardware to defend against online attacks. It’s won a number of federal grants.

—GotSpot lets entrepreneurs rent commercial space for their business on a short-term basis. It is based in Houston.

—Based in Cleveland, OH, Haima Therapeutics is developing experimental therapies to treat bleeding by amplifying clotting with synthetic platelets, according to its website. It is still in the preclinical stage, according to MassChallenge.

—Hangio, based in Dallas, makes bendable hangers that appear to not only be effective, but also could be fun to play with.

—Intry, which has a business address just outside of Austin in Dripping Springs, TX, is trying to use artificial intelligence software to better connect job applicants with prospective employers.

A young startup from San Antonio that Xconomy has covered, Olifant Medical is developing a device that helps healthcare workers intubate patients more easily and rapidly.

—Affordable plastic that is biodegradable, renewable, and bioabsorbable? We’ll see if Austin-based MicroRio can do it. The bioprocess technology was licensed from Stanford University.

—How is this technology-obsessed younger generation ever going to learn a thing about finances? Austin-based Moolah U has a few ideas.

—Getting more sun is good for you, right? Arlington, TX-based SolGro is developing a system that aims to increase greenhouse crop yields with canopies that use nanotechnology to help use more photosynthetic sunlight.

—What if you didn’t have to dig a hole to lay broadband fiber? Warrenton, VA-based Traxyl is developing a technology to place fiber onto paved surfaces.

—If coffee isn’t enough of a pick-me-up for you, a company called Whiskey Morning Coffee, based in Tolar, TX, southwest of Fort Worth, is making coffee that’s aged in whiskey barrels. Can’t even imagine what they put in the night coffee… .