Meet the Nine MA Companies Competing in the Smart Fifty Competition


The final round of the inaugural Smart Fifty Competition kicks off Friday afternoon at the Brandeis International Business School in Waltham.

The purpose of the competition is to identify 50 start-up companies from around the globe that are addressing India’s biggest socio-economic needs in the areas of agriculture, living, learning, health, money and sustainability.

The Brandeis business school, TiE Boston and the IIM Calcutta Innovation Park in association with the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology are co-sponsoring the competition.

A select group of companies from the Boston round will receive a grant, business support and the opportunity pitch for $1.5 million in equity funding in Delhi. Meet the nine Massachusetts companies vying for this exciting opportunity.


Khethworks aims to give small-plot farmers across the world unprecedented control over their livelihoods through affordable and high quality technology. The company created an affordable, solar powered irrigation pump that enables farmers in dry areas to irrigate year round.


Lowell-based Nonspec is committed to providing affordable, adjustable prosthetic limb systems to all amputees.

Orora Global

Orora Global is a for-profit social enterprise that provides rural and urban communities globally with access to reliable, renewable energy. The company supports women with seed money of $150 to buy rechargeable solar lanterns to start a solar business. Orora also assists communities in building off-grid homes and public buildings powered with low-cost, solar solutions that will provide solar power for LED lighting, cell-phone charging, ceiling fans and televisions.


PlenOptika responds to the problem of low vision suffered by more than a billion people worldwide. The company’s QuickSee device enables accurate autorefraction, which helps doctors prescribe people with the correct glasses or contact lenses, anywhere at the touch of a button.

Puffins Innovations

Puffins Innovations focuses on smart assistive technology that allows people with disabilities to lead more functional and meaningful lives. One of the company’s products is a breath-activated portable input device that connects to both mobile phones and computers. It offers people without the use of their arms and hands to breath into the device to do tasks such as turning on the lights, managing online bank accounts, using mobile phone apps and a computer in the workplace. The company raised $10,000 on iFundWomen.

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Takachar decentralizes the biomass conversion process. Biomass residues are mostly produced in rural, dispersed settings, and therefore can be very expensive to transport over long distances to centralized processing facilities. Roughly more than $120 billion per year of biomass residues are being burned in the open, contributing to air pollution, urban smog and greenhouse gas emissions. Takachar reactors utilized oxygen-lean torrefaction to drastically downsize the scale and capital cost of biomass torrefaction. The units do not require external heat source to run itself, are resilient in resource-constrained settings and are 100 times smaller in capital cost and scale compared to other existing torrefaction reactors.


Voatz, a mobile election platform, enables citizens to vote in all kinds of elections or voting events with their smartphones. The platform utilizes smart biometrics, real-time ID verification and blockchain for irrefutability. The company won $50,000 at in the MassChallenge competition in 2017.


Sensen is a wireless, data-logging sensor platform that provides an affordable plug and play solution for remote data collection. The battery-powered device remotely collects, logs and wirelessly transmits your data. Your phone then verifies and previews data before uploading to the cloud. The cloud stores the data so multiple parties can collect and view simultaneously, and then users can download data for further analysis. Sensen applications have measured the usage of improved cookstoves in East Africa through heat sensors, and also been used to instrument solar lanterns in Morocco.

Vata Verks

Arlington-based Vata Verks is a non-invasive smart sensor that can monitor the flow of water and natural gas to create cheap, high resolution flow data. The sensors can be integrated into any building monitoring or building management system, which protects occupants and buildings from leaks and tracks usage and costs, resulting in conservation and cost savings.



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