Representatives from five local companies will compete for a $25,000 award as finalists in the Bennington County Intrapreneur Challenge.

This new program from Lever, an economic development nonprofit agency, is designed to help existing companies use the tools of entrepreneurship to create new, innovative products and services that will grow revenues and create jobs.

Grateful Dog Training, Star Wind Turbines, Old Mill Road Media, Authentic Designs and MSK Engineers will participate in Lever’s program. These companies will be supported by research from Bennington College students, through a series of workshops on applying methods that startups use and by a group of expert mentors. Mentors are John Antonucci of LaunchVT; Michael Cushman, formerly at St. Gobain and now retired; Michael Marchinetti of OC&C Strategy Consultants, Shari Siegel of Ranieri Partners; and Jeffrey Thomas, Lever’s executive director.

The challenge will culminate with a final pitch event in March.

About the finalists

Authentic Designs, West Rupert: Authentic Designs is a 50-plus-year-old manufacturing company specializing in the reproduction of 18th- and 19th-century lighting. Authentic Designs is developing a new line of early 20th century reproduction lighting and developing a method to use solar energy or other renewable energy to power period-specific light fixtures.

Grateful Dog Training, Manchester: Grateful Dog provides hands-on dog training services with a focus on positive reinforcement. The company is working to develop an online platform with video tutorials to support personalized learning plans for dog and handler teams, as well as a “Rescue Dog Detox and Development” program with online support.

MSK Engineers, Bennington: MSK is a team of civil engineers working on innovations in the identification and replacement of lead drinking water service lines. Through MSK’s work with the town of Bennington, the company implemented a novel approach to identify lead drinking water pipes, which it plans to bring to other municipalities in the region.

Old Mill Road Media, East Arlington: Old Mill Road is a media company that publishes numerous local magazines. Old Mill Road is developing a new regional magazine and specialty guide to launch in 2022.

Star Wind Turbines, East Dorset: Star Wind Turbines is developing a new small wind turbine that would have the capability to power and heat a single home. This product would also be able to connect to single- or three-phase power grids or combine with solar panels, creating an energy solution that combines sustainable sources.

I’m excited to work with these five very different, and very interesting, Bennington companies,” said Thomas, Lever’s executive director. “By supporting these teams’ innovations through Lever’s Challenge program, we hope to see business success that leads to jobs, revenue and economic development for Bennington County.”

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Jan 12, 2022