Where employer electronic monitoring and employee privacy collide
Technology seems to advance at a rate faster than most of us can comprehend.
Wait too long to buy the latest gadget or become acclimated with new software or systems, and you’ll find yourself behind as they are updated or are rendered obsolete.
With the booming popularity of smart phones and GPS devices in recent years, we are able to have an entire world of information in our pockets, and getting lost on the highway is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
But it’s also never been easier to be found. Even before smart phones, the growth in use of mobile phones a decade ago made everyone accessible virtually 24/7. But now the iPhone in your pocket, or the global positioning system (GPS) in your car, can make you answerable at all times, and the very technology that can help you get directions, find a nearby restaurant, or locate your lost phone, is the same technology someone else can use to find out where you are at all times.
The way we work evolves with these new technologies as well — more and more e-mail correspondence, computer networks and the cloud. So who’s to say businesses can’t also find a use for all that’s at our fingertips? Whether it’s because times are tough, or simply because companies want to keep better track of their assets and control costs, knowing where your employees are can be helpful.
But installing a GPS in a company vehicle that can give employers the location of workers at all times may be disconcerting for those who do a lot of work on the road. This is a fresh issue in Connecticut, since in February Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration favored a budget proposal from the Department of Children & Families (DCF) that if approved would install GPS devices in 750 cars to improve employee efficiency and manage vehicle usage.
According to the proposal, installing the GPS units in the vehicles would yield a savings of nearly $250,000 in overtime and fuel costs. DCF cited statistics that non-profits using the devices have seen sharp declines in those costs.
The proposal also states that the ability to monitor vehicle use will help the DCF verify “numerous complaints from the public” the department has received regarding the operation of its vehicles.
“It’s pretty simple. There are more than 700 cars used by department staff, and [using GPS units] is an important way to manage that significant public resource,” DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt says. “There’s no time more pressing than today to effectively manage resources.”
But the union representing DCF workers finds the proposal demoralizing. Local 2663 president Paul Lavalle says he isn’t opposed to the potential efficiencies that GPS devices can bring, but thinks the way they’re being proposed is an affront to workers.
“I haven’t had any employees disciplined for driving excessively or inappropriately, and if it was that people were getting lost all the time it would be one thing,” Lavalle says. “Our responsibility and how efficiently we provide services to our clients is based on trust. When I have a commissioner [DCF Commissioner Joette Katz] telling the world she’s putting GPS in the cars, she saying — if not implying it — that she doesn’t trust us. And that makes it harder to get the clients to trust us.”
“That’s not the point at all,” Kleeblatt retorts. “It’s just that if we’re going to be accountable to the public, we can’t manage what we don’t have information about. Social workers are doing very challenging work helping families with a lot of significant challenges, and this is in no way diminishing that fact.”
Lavalle says the matter of solving overtime issues could be solved with allowing DCF workers more flexible schedules with variable hours to suit the job; currently he says any hours worked after 5:30 p.m. count as overtime.
Connecticut is one of the only states in the country that has a law specifically addressing GPS tracking in the workplace; general statute 31-48d requires employers to give written notification to employees in advance of electronically monitoring their actions or communications via telephone, camera (including hidden cameras), computer, radio, wire, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, photo-optical and “other.”
However, the law only covers electronic monitoring done on a company’s premises (with the monitoring through any means other than direct observation); and in cases of reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, no prior notice is needed.
A 2009 Connecticut Supreme Court case on this topic involved two former firefighters, Frank Gerardi and Stephen Vitka, and the City of Bridgeport. The city had GPS devices installed on new vehicles without informing the firefighters using them. When the city brought disciplinary action against Gerardi and Vitka, the two sued, claiming they violated the state statute.
In spite of not being notified of the monitoring, the case was dropped and it was decided the plaintiffs had no private cause of action, since the monitoring did not take place on the employer’s premises, and because there is no specific language in the statute that entitles employees who were not given initial notice to any specific relief or remedy.
It sounds like a thorny legal situation, and some lawyers agree. Chris Brigham, principal at the New Haven law office of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, says companies can avoid this kind of legal action by simply adhering to the statute and posting written notice to all employees. A printable poster is even available from the state for posting on bulletin boards.
“GPS is still not a traditional form of e-monitoring, but the trend is going in this direction, especially in companies that have employees on the road a lot,” Brigham says. “My sense is if you’ve going to do GPS monitoring by satellite, the cautious approach would be provide written notice.
“I don’t think the statute was drafted with GPS in mind, since there’s no specific point in there,” he adds. “I’m sure we’re going to see additional cases that push the limits on this, especially since there is a Big Brother element that no one likes.”
Adds Peter Dagostine, a lawyer for Durant, Nichols, Houston, Hodgson & Cortese-Costa, “Employers really help themselves by letting their employees know.”
All signs point to electronic monitoring only expanding. Technology market research firm ABI Research recently predicted that the market for personal GPS tracking devices and applications will grow by 40 percent and break $1 billion in 2017.
As the Gerardi v. Bridgeport case demonstrates, the fact that an employer violates the statute doesn’t necessarily translate to a win in court for the employee. Attorney Louis Federici of the Hamden office of Parrett, Porto, Parese & Colwell says establishing damages in an invasion-of-privacy case can be tough.
“If you’ve got a right to privacy and they violated it, you can bring a lawsuit in principle,” Federici says. “But in any litigation, establishing damages is always tricky. What’s the consequence of being monitored? How do you quantify it? You can say you had an extreme emotional reaction and needed medical treatment, but as a consequence you open your medical history up for the opposition to look at. It can be extremely difficult to make the claims stick.”
Federici says he has not tried many cases of this nature for exactly that reason. And while he says employers may want to track company vehicles to ensure workers are focusing on work and not wasting time or money, he also thinks a certain amount of common sense should be applied.
“Employees still are entitled to some privacy and to living their lives,” he says. “I hope monitoring would eliminate the creepy stuff, but maybe it wouldn’t keep an employee from having to make a doctor’s appointment for their kids.”
On the national stage, the case of United States v. Jones involved law enforcement obtaining a warrant to track a Washington, D.C. suspect’s vehicle, with the stipulation that the device had to be installed within ten days, and the installation performed within the District of Columbia. Police attached the device on the 11th day, in Maryland. As a result, the suspect, Antoine Jones, had his conviction of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and life prison sentence reversed due to warrantless use of GPS.
But privacy issues in the digital age primarily revolve around the Internet. There have been plenty of national news stories highlighting the pitfalls of social networking relationships between employers and employees (Google even recently announced it would include a do-not-track feature in its browser, which would prevent companies from using a person’s Web history to deliver custom advertising). Dagostine says it’s a growing trend.
“I’ve seen the disciplining or discharging of employees for social media or e-mail; people post on Facebook where they’re clearly identified with their employer, and making inappropriate comments about them, or customers,” he says. “A decision needs to be made on how that can be used on someone’s private time and computer. But the law is slow to catch up to these situations.”
Still, he says, ultimately if an employee is using an employer’s property for something other than work, that fact may trump privacy protections.
“If an employer provides the computer, the servers and the e-mail system, it’s their property, and they can tell you what you can or can’t use it to visit,” he says. “With personal smart phones and tablets, the employer might not be able to block content, but that can say that when you’re on work time, you can and can’t do this.”
Dagostine says in the case of personal devices with cameras, there’s little the business owner can do to prevent anyone from using a camera, but in cases of government buildings or industries where trade secrets are a factor, there could be rules restricting their use.
And what if you’re at work and find your business e-mail inundated with offensive spam? One could argue that that creates a hostile work environment, but it’s more a liability if the employer does nothing to remedy the problem.
“‘Hostile work environment’ sounds easy, and people use it frequently, but for that, it would have to be of such a nature to shock the consciousness — that’s the standard that courts are looking for,” Federici says. “I don’t think e-mail is going to make that standard. ‘Shocking the consciousness’ is more like coming into work and seeing a burning cross in your parking space.”
Federici says Connecticut has sensible monitoring laws; Dagostine agrees that the laws are appropriate, but applying the technology is become more difficult as it advances.
“It has to work itself out, too,” Dagostine says. “Employer liability laws are just going to be interpreted in light of new technology, so the issue is more employee privacy laws; they haven’t caught up to technology.”
It seems clear the issue is far from being resolved.
“We see this in all areas: the changing technology is changing the way we work and how we supervise employees,” Brigham says. “And there may be some additional cases down the line that challenge the scope and breadth of our statute.”
ROCKY HILL — Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII) has launched several initiatives to help finance young businesses and spur entrepreneurship in the state.
The Connecticut Innovation Ecosystem initiative is designed to help scalable young companies grow.
The Innovation Ecosystem is one of several new initiatives launched by CII after its recent announcement of a plan to invest $250 million, half of which is coming from state coffers, over the next five years to spur the tech industry in Connecticut. The first year of the Innovation Ecosystem is supported by $4.8 million of state funding.
“We want Connecticut’s entrepreneurship support system to function like an ecosystem where young ventures can grow and succeed,” said Catherine Smith, chair of CII and commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), which administers CII.
CII has issued two requests for qualifications (RFQ) for entities to assist with implementing the Ecosystem initiative. The RFQ for Statewide System-Focused Responses seeks business entities to undertake day-to-day management and coordination of the Ecosystem, and the RFQ for Innovation Hub-Focused Responses seeks entities to assume management and development of Connecticut’s “innovation hubs” of entrepreneurial activity.
More information on the Innovation Ecosystem can be found at ctinnovations.com/innovationecosystem.
The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Acceleration and Commercialization Program is supported by $1.8 million in state funding and $2.2 million from CII. It will provide grants to entrepreneurs and small businesses participating in the federal SBIR program to help grow their technology companies.
Prospective entrepreneurs can learn about and enter the program at ctinnovations.com/sbirfunding.
NEW HAVEN — Medical device company EpiEP Inc. has received a follow-on investment of $1 million from Connecticut Innovations Inc.’s (CII) Eli Whitney Fund to continue research into the treatment of deadly cardiac arrhythmias.
The company received a previous $1 million investment from CII in 2010, the same year the company relocated to New Haven from Virginia. EpiEP’s initial product, the EpiAccess system, is now being tested in first-in-humans trials in Europe. It aims to provide minimally invasive access to the pericardium, or outer surface of the heart.
CII also made a $500,000 investment in Westport-based healthcare IT company MyCare Inc. through its Seed Investment Fund. The company is developing a search engine tool, Smart Access to Medical Information (SAMI) for health-care institutions to access medical record data.
NEW HAVEN — Pharmaceutical company Rib-X has received a $3 million milestone payment from French drug maker Sanofi.
Rib-X signed a research collaboration and option for license with Sanofi last year for novel classes of antibiotics, resulting from Rib-X’s RX-04 program for the treatment of drug-resistant Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens. The payment from Sanofi was for the achievement of research-based milestones.
The RX-04 agreement dictates that Sanofi has the right to license an unlimited number of products targeting a discrete binding site within a ribosome, while Rib-X will retain rights pertaining to its proprietary drug discovery platform.
Rib-X has received $22 million to date in milestone payments in this collaboration. For the achievement of research, development, and regulatory milestones, the company could per product; up to $100 million per product for achieving commercial milestones.
ORANGE — Software services company Tangoe continues on its business shopping spree, having acquired UK-based mobile communications management-services provider ttMobiles.
Tangoe president and CEO Al Subbloie said the acquisition will help expand the company into Europe to enhance its portfolio of global programs.
ttMobiles specializes in mobile sourcing, provider migration, localized charge auditing, personal call management, cost control, recorded call management, fleet administration and complete outsourced mobile management.
ttMobiles’ managing director and co-founder Aldo Rossi will become managing director of Tangoe’s European operations, while ttMobile executive directors will also assume roles in Tangoe’s operations overseas.
Tangoe expects ttMobiles to generate $500,000 in revenue in the first quarter of 2012, and $4.5 million in total revenue for the year. This would bring Tangoe’s total expected revenue to some $143.5 million.
Tangoe announced the acquisition of another firm, Montreal-based Anomalous Networks, in January.
WALLINGFORD — Software developer and network support firm Forza has been ranked the top Technology Managed Service Provider in North America by MSPmentor, an online service provider news and resource guide.
MSPmentor defines as a managed service provider (MSP) a company that receives compensation for information technology services it provides to keep client networks running smoothly.
The MSPmentor 200 North America is an annual report that ranks companies based on criteria such as annual recurring revenue, total devices managed, revenue per employee and growth rate.
MERIDEN — Vaccine developer Protein Sciences Corp. (PSC) has closed a deal to license its insect cell line for use in vaccine research by New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Merck has also secured the rights to use PSC’s ExpressSF+ technology for an undisclosed vaccine candidate.
While PSC will receive an upfront fee for the deal, the company also will also receive payments any time Merck uses its technology for additional vaccine candidates. PSC’s tools have been used to create more than 1,000 proteins.
Protein Sciences was named one of the state’s fastest-growing life sciences companies in 2011 by the Connecticut Technology Council. Winners were selected based on four-year revenue growth and at least $3 million in annual revenue for the most recent year.
NEW HAVEN — Science Park startup Grey Wall Software, LLC, has received a $150,000 investment from Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII)
A total of $450,000 was awarded to three startups in the state ($150,000 each) as part of CII’s Pre-Seed Fund, and each company has secured matching funds from private investors.
Grey Wall has developed Web and mobile software to help enable effective team response and collaboration during crisis situations, emergencies and disruptive events. The software is designed to be used by municipalities, utilities, airports, schools, and corporations in applications where response to situations such as severe weather, accidents and outages may require a team response.
The program has been in beta testing over several months and has gone through various emergency drills.
Other startups to get a piece of the Pre-Seed investment were C2C, LLC of West Simsbury and Stone Creek Entertainment Inc. of Ridgefield.
• January 31 — Tangoe announces that it has entered into a strategic alliance with HCL Technologies, assuming ownership of HCL’s fixed and mobile expense-management practice, processing centers and support staff located in Alpharetta, Ga. and East Rutherford, N.J.
• March 18 — Tangoe acquires network/IT firm Telwares Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. for an undisclosed sum.
• March 31 — Tangoe goes global, opening its first European headquarters in Manchester, England.
• August 2 — Tangoe’s initial public offering (IPO) closes. Investors purchased 7.5 million shares at $10 each, raising a total of $88 million for the company. The deal was cited as one of top five IPOs of 2011 by The Street.com in an admitted dismal year for IPOs (330 total deals, down nearly a third from 2010).
• October 19 — Tangoe lands on the Inc. 5000 for the sixth consecutive year, having charted 225-percent revenue growth from 2007 to 2010.
• December 19 — Tangoe acquires privately held ProfitLine Inc., a global provider of telecom expense and mobility management services, for approximately $23.5 million.
How the Elm City’s tech prodigy folded philanthropy into its core mission
Last spring, the IT department at Higher One was alerted to a problem: Some computer equipment wasn’t running up to par. So they used their considerable expertise to get the system running. It was not just another day at the office. On this particular day, the system in need of help was at New Haven Reads, a non-profit group that provides children and adults access to free books and tutoring to increase their literacy skills and academic performance.
Before the tech project, Higher One had focused its volunteer efforts with New Haven Reads on tutoring. But when Higher One’s Pete Boynton, Danielle Sheehan and Matt Desfosses were made aware of the need at New Haven Reads, they drew from the company, personal donations and even outside connections at Cisco Systems to better the non-profit’s ailing infrastructure.
Higher One is a good friend to have. Founded in 2000, the New Haven company provides an array of payment services to institutions of higher education — two- and four-year, public and private. Colleges and universities retain Higher One to disburse money to students in the form of financial aid, payroll and other payments. A payment service helps schools with tuition billing and any inbound payments and payment plans. The company also provides customized financial services — debit cards and full-service bank accounts with no monthly fees — for students on campus.
Founded by three Yale students 12 years ago, Higher One today has more than 200 employees and offices in New Haven, Atlanta, Ga. and Oakland, Calif.
Co-founder Mark Volchek says the idea for Higher One came about after observing that there were no customizable financial services for students and few if any technology solutions for universities and colleges. "So we put those two problems together and found a solution,” he says. “With the Internet becoming more mainstream, we had to start offering Internet-driven financial services.”
Today, Volchek is Higher One’s CFO and works with co-founder and COO Miles Lasater. At the end of June, Volchek will step into the role of CEO as Dean Hatton retires. Today Higher One has 770 college and university clients and more than five million student customers.
The company is based on more than technology, education and a good idea. Volchek credits the company’s core values, which include teamwork and open communications: “That is reflected in the office and is key to the way we do business.”
A committee called Higher One CARES (Community Action for Resources, Education and Service) focuses on identifying opportunities for community involvement and engagement through support of local non-profits. Last year, CARES conducted a food drive for FISH of Greater New Haven, a group that delivers food directly to the homes of those in need. During the holiday season, CARES participated in Adopt-a-Family, working with the St. Vincent’s Day Home.
On March 13, Higher One will host a Volunteer Fair from noon to 4 p.m. at its new corporate headquarters on Munson Street in New Haven. The event is open to the public and will showcase opportunities for individuals to volunteer in the New Haven area.
Higher One’s workspace features an open working environment with few offices and ample open space to encourage engagement between and among staff.
“Employees are encouraged to interact with different departments and even folks within their own departments,” explains Volchek. “It not only makes for a better business, but it makes for happier employees.” Other Higher One core values include integrity, creativity, stellar service and focus.
Lasater says it is adherence to those values that have driven the company’s success.
“We’ve heard overwhelmingly from our employees that volunteering is important to them,” Lasater says. “We think it helps set us apart as an employer of choice in attracting new talent. It’s increasingly important. Customers want to feel good about working with a company that has a mission that’s broader than purely a profit motive.”
The company co-founder knows the value of hard work and remaining humble.
“Personally, to a large degree, my volunteer time is work that I’d be doing anyway,” he says.
That’s no idle boast. Lasater sits on the board of directors of Yale-New Haven Hospital and has served as a member of the Port Authority of New Haven and Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. He is a past recipient of an Elm-Ivy Award, cited by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Yale President Richard C. Levin for strengthening partnerships between the New Haven and Yale communities. Lasater and Volchek also co-founded the Yale Entrepreneurial Society.
Volchek is chairman of the board of directors of Tweed-New Haven Airport. His past civic activities include positions on the New Haven Economic Development Commission and the Regional Growth Partnership Strategic Planning Committee.
“The airport is an important economic development driver,” says Volchek. “It’s a thankless position, but focusing on any means of transportation is going to be very important for the community.”
He sets a good example for Higher One employees, who are encouraged to serve on boards of non-profits in the local area.
“From the beginning, we’ve been focusing on what will make the company grow and what will make it successful, so internally we spend a lot of time on goal-setting and making sure all company goals are aligned with department goals and individual goals,” Volchek explains. “We drive the culture toward making people accountable to their goals rather than specific hours of sitting in the office or being in a specific place at a specific time.”
The company recently moved into new headquarters at New Haven’s Science Park in one of the old Winchester Repeating Arms Co. buildings. But the relocation didn’t take place without some soul-searching.
“Since we renovated the building from the ground up, it’s much more functional and really supports the values and the cultural aspect of the company,” Volchek says. “We focused on providing great things for our employees like a gym and a cafeteria.”
“Downtown office space is corporate and expensive, so many companies move out of New Haven to a [suburban] office park that is less expensive and easier for parking,” Volchek says. “We decided to stay in New Haven. We liked the culture here more than an office space surrounded with a thousand parking spaces.”
To make the financials work, Higher One worked with the state, the city and Science Park and essentially designed a building with the tax credits they received from the state.
“It was competitive with moving to an office park outside of New Haven and now we get the benefit of the character of Science Park and being a few blocks from the Yale campus,” Volchek says.
City Economic Development Administrator Kelly Murphy is pleased Higher One stayed.
"Higher One was one of the first companies to relocate to Science Park as a small start-up,” she says. “Since then, the company has grown to employ more than 200 people, many of whom have been actively involved in the community, including serving on numerous city boards and commissions. While Higher One had cheaper options outside the city, we are fortunate they chose to grow here in New Haven and invest in the renovation of the old Winchester factory for their new office space.”
Volchek is also pleased with his decision, but admits to wishing that there was better public transportation in the city and state.
“That’s a problem we have in Connecticut in general,” he says. “Keeping that in mind, we put our bike rack indoors to make it more convenient than a parking lot. It’s important for businesses to work with New Haven to make the city a better place.”
Last year, the Higher One CARES committee focused on corporate and employee engagement with the communities its workers live in, work in and serve. The group focuses primarily on education, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
“We want to make it easy to give — not necessarily monetary, but also for people to give their time,” Volchek says.
The company also awarded $50,000 in college scholarships in 2011.
“I think our university clients appreciate that level of support,” Lasater observes. An additional $30,000 was granted to campuses as part of the company’s Financial Literacy Counts program.
Last spring, Higher One also awarded scholarships to New Haven high school students. Kathy Flores and Jeffrey Kosko, seniors at Common Grounds High School, received awards during the Rock-to-Rock bike ride in April that began at Common Grounds High School. Matt Desfosses, who chairs Higher One CARES, personally raised $1,000 that went directly to a scholarship. The third scholarship went to Aloysia Maria Jean, a Hillhouse High School junior.
In addition to the scholarship donations, members of Higher One CARES participated in the Rock-to-Rock bike ride to show support for the many environmental organizations that benefitted from the event.
Higher One’s founders believe that students can learn financial responsibility and, when given the proper tools, can successfully live within their means. To that end, the company has dedicated resources to financial literacy including its Financial Intelligence online financial literacy course, the “One For Your Money” blog dedicated to the fundamentals of finances for college students.
The CARES committee was formed five years ago and focuses on helping the community through education, literacy, entrepreneurship and, according to Volchek, “We think it’s key to share our expertise with the community.”
“We’ve been criticized for not hiring more local folks, but we hire the best people who apply,” Volchek explains. “We don’t care where they live. We don’t discriminate, pro or against anybody. It’s about hiring the best people and the way to get the best people in New Haven is through education to qualify for the jobs that we and others create.”
There are no requirements placed on Higher One employees to volunteer or donate, but there are incentives in the form of matching programs with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and a paid day off in exchange for a day of volunteering.
Higher One offers a flexible work environment, so employees can come in late, leave early and tend to out-of-work responsibilities — as long as the goals associated with their assigned job are met.
One such way employees can earn a day off is by volunteering on Junior Achievement Day each spring in New Haven public schools. Louis Golden, president of the southwest New England division of Junior Achievement, says Higher One employees provide a valuable resource to students each spring.
“Higher One is a true example of the power of mobilizing volunteers in the community,” says Golden. “They go into a school, spend their time working with young people, and in our case, inspire and prepare children for business.
“There are many companies that care about the communities and they do it by focusing on ways they can connect with the community better,” Golden adds. “They are very focused on working with the young people on JA Day. Those people have other jobs and other demands and they’re leaving all of that behind to help young people. To do that, each one of those people have to go back to the office and catch up. They’re giving up hours to be in the school, and for those students, it can change their lives. It’s very important.”
Consistent with the core mission of their company, Higher One employees tend to become involved with giving projects that focus on education and technology. For example, last summer, Higher One partnered with the Community Foundation to launch Give Greater, a website for online giving. Through the site, 165 non-profits in Connecticut can accept donations at any time of day or night.
“Our employees were among the first to give through the site and we gave a company match for the first givers,” says Lasater. “It provided a nice platform to raise awareness about many of our local organizations. It’s driven by individual donors who want to play a more active role in giving, rather than turning it over to a organization to make grants.”
Lasater encourages Higher One employees to join organizations such as All Our Kin and LEAP at the board level: “Doing hands-on project-based work with an organization provides one type of reward for people, but serving on the board also gives you a unique perspective on these organizations and the issues they face,” he says. “It helps build leaders here.
“You gain perspective about strategic issues and you learn more about your own personal ability to contribute,” Lasater explains. “Being able to step into another organization and play a different role can help grow your talents and understand where you can get things done based on what’s coming from within, not just an exterior title.
“Every little bit adds up,” he adds. “It’s the ripple effect of setting an example, encouraging our employees to take it seriously and make time for it. It impacts their families and other places of business, and hopefully that ripples out in a positive way. It’s not just about what we’re doing directly.”
NEW HAVEN — MassChallenge will hold an information session for budding startup companies looking to enter the competition to gain access to resources and financing.
The info session will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. February 21 at co-working loft space La Bourse, 839 Chapel Street.
Those who enter the competition will have the chance to pitch their startup companies, and if they become a finalist, will enter MassChallenge’s accelerator program in Boston for three months where they can further develop their business with access to industry resources.
The top ten startups will finally be judged to win $1 million in award money.
The competition seeks early-stage startups from any location and in any industry. MassChallenge media coordinator Jodi-Datiana Charles says applicants come from all over the world to compete, and around 80 percent end up staying in Massachusetts with their companies.
The competition will start with the application process March 1.