MassChallenge awards $1.5 million, from hybrid trucks to implantable blood monitors

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Hybrid electric engines for tractor-trailers, community toilets for the developing world, and implantable glucose sensors for diabetics were among the ideas that earned $100,000 top prizes at the latest MassChallenge awards ceremony Wednesday night.

The 16 winners who shared $1.5 million in total prize money were selected from this year’s overall class of 128 MassChallenge startups, which were drawn from around the world for a four-month program headquartered in Boston’s Seaport district. The program had previously narrowed the class down to 26 finalists.

The MassChallenge program, which is sponsored by the state and private companies, gives entrepreneurs office space, mentorship, and other perks as they seek to build their companies.

Unlike other accelerator or incubator programs, MassChallenge does not take an equity stake in the companies. Instead, its prizes are offered as grants.

MassChallenge has recently added programs in the UK and Israel, and says it plans to expand to 10 cities by 2019.

“I’m extremely proud of all 128 startups that came through the accelerator this summer and look forward to continuing the journey with them,” MassChallenge Boston managing director Scott Bailey said.

Winners of the $100,000 “Diamond” prizes Wednesday night reflected a wide array of both geographic backgrounds and business sectors:

Biorasis (Connecticut): Working on a tiny, implantable “biosensor” that would be able to monitor a diabetes patient’s glucose levels and wirelessly send data to smartphones or laptops.

Estrenon (Mexico): Building stores that improve access to re-used clothing in Latin America.

Hyliion (Massachusetts): Developing a hybrid-electric engine system for tractor-trailers that it says can help truckers save 30 percent on their fuel costs.

Sanitation and Health Rights in India (Massachusetts): Constructing community toilets and working with local communities in India to help prevent pollution from human waste.

In addition to those prizes, Biorasis and Massachusetts-based LaunchPad Medical were selected to share a $500,000 prize for technology that could be useful in space.

LaunchPad Medical is developing a product called Tetranite, which it says is a synthetic adhesive that can be used to attach medical hardware to broken bones.