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George Mason Advances Tech Start-Ups in Bioscience, Cyber Security, Sustainability, and Medical Device

Second Annual Conference and Competition Builds Investment in Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship in DC, Maryland, and Virginia 

Capping George Mason University’s second-annual Accelerate Investor Conference were the winners of the startup competition and three entrepreneurial students teams. At the Accelerate Gala awards, finalist startups pitched to four VIP investor judges and were awarded cash prizes at an event featuring keynote speaker Teresa Carlson, the Corporate Vice President and Executive-in-Residence at Microsoft.

The Accelerate Conference opened with remarks from Laurie E. Locascio, Director of NIST and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards & Technology, and a keynote from Seth Goldman, Co-Founder of Eat the Change® and Honest Tea as well as the Board Chair of Beyond Meat. More than 400 business, start-ups, and entrepreneurs, as well as 22 student teams, attended the Nov. 2-3 event at Mason Square, the future home to Fuse, a new student and startup hub.

“Mason is proud to lead through our partnerships and long-standing commitment to the region, bringing together corporate leaders, investors, academia, local entrepreneurs and student from universities across the region to accelerate the pace of change and innovation,” said Mason President, Dr. Gregory Washington. “We are committed to increasing our research portfolio and improving the lab to market process for economic development, while preparing students for the workforce.”

Capra BioSciences based in Manassas, VA, won a $10,000 check and bragging rights, for their high performance renewable chemicals technology. The three additional finalists were Codelock, Linshom, and Vali Cyber.

The Accelerate Student Competition, which had student teams from eight local universities competing, was won by Absurd Snacks, a team from the University of Richmond. They received $5,000 to expand the retail location of their unique and delicious snacks. Second place and $2,000 went to Rugged Redemption, a prosthetic knee tech from George Washington University. Third place and $1,000 went to Tow Ninja, an automotive vehicle towing startup from Virginia Commonwealth University.{PHOTOS)

“We need more investment, collaboration space, business supports, and incubator opportunities in the region,” added Bethesda, MD-native Goldstein from stage during a conversation with Washington Business Journal’s Donte Kirby.

Over two days, panels discussed trends in investment in future technology development, in pandemic preparedness, in politics and entertainment, in diversity, and defense technology. The conference closed with retired NFL linebacker/ startup investor Dhani Jones, and record executive and producer Che Pope. {PHOTO}

While on a panel with Mason’s Associate Professor Aarthi Narayanan, Ceres NeuroSciences Chief Business Officer Robbie Barbaro called on the need for academia to play a bigger and key role in advancing start-up research.

Conference partners and supporters, included Smart City Works, Go Virginia, ManTech, Arlington Economic Development, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Microsoft, and Pangiam. The competition prize was sponsored by Maan Ventures.

“We are excited to continue strengthening Northern Virginia’s exceptional innovation ecosystem by partnering with Mason and the private sector throughout the year,” said Mason partner Smart City Works Executive Director Carola Mendelbaum. “We aspire to help bring forth much-needed investment in innovations.”

The annual conference invites national investors to meet early to A stage tech startups in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as student concepts with longer-term business viability. The 2023 Accelerate Investor Conference in planned for November. 1-2, 2023 in Arlington VA.


Mason Enterprise supports small business and entrepreneurs through federal, state, and local programs. Last year’s impact was $1.6 Billion, achieved through 42,000 hours of individual counseling to 11,000 small businesses, 738 training programs, and 378 companies incubated. 76% of businesses served were woman-owned, 60% were minority-owned, and 13% were veteran-owned.


George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. In 2022, Mason celebrates 50 years as an independent institution. Learn more at


The Accelerate Conference is an investor event and startup business competition that showcases the DMV as a powerhouse for innovation and business opportunity. The competition fuels innovation-based business growth by showcasing the best and brightest new tech startups to potential investors to foster their development within the region.


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