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MIE Alum Wins $50,000 in MassChallenge

Therapeutic Systems, a company cofounded by Brian Mullen (right) when he was a graduate student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, has won $50,000 in the MassChallenge award competition. The concept for Therapeutic Systems was a vest developed by Mullen to help calm people with autism. He cofounded the company with fellow UMass Amherst alumnus Chris Leidel (left). Therapeutic Systems was among 26 startups from around the world that split $1 million in awards through the challenge. The competition is run by a nonprofit group that seeks to boost promising business ventures.

Below is an excerpt from a Daily Hampshire Gazette article:

Therapeutic Systems, the Amherst-based company that developed a vest to calm people with autism, took home a gold prize in competitive global startup competition that concluded last week.

The three-year-old company won $50,000 in the MassChallenge competition designed to help business ventures get off the ground. Therapeutic Systems was among 26 startups from around the world that split $1 million in awards through the challenge.

The company’s founders, Brian Mullen and Chris Leidel, received the award at a ceremony attended by nearly 1,000 investors, media, business leaders, and entrepreneurial teams.

“Winning at MassChallenge is a huge honor,” Mullen said in a press release. “The support from MassChallenge over the last three months — both financial and in mentoring and networking resources — has pushed us toward meeting our goals.”

With cash in hand, Therapeutic Systems will be pursuing their focus of collecting evidence-based data in hopes of making its so-called Vayu vest the first insurance-reimbursable medical device for children with autism.

The vest uses a therapy known as deep pressure touch stimulation. It treats people by applying firm pressure to the chest, much like the feeling of a hug. The pressure is intended to calm and soothe children with autism and other disorders.

MassChallenge drew an initial 733 applicants from 38 states and 24 countries last spring. That number was whittled to 125 startups, all of which had the chance to participate in a three-month accelerator program designed to help speed the growth of their companies. (November 2011)