Incubating the green rush: Milford lab opens doors to cannabis entrepreneurs

MILFORD, Mass. — Cashing in on the ‘green rush’ created by the legalized recreational cannabis industry is the dream of many small business owners, but it isn’t always easy.

Without the help of federally regulated banks, investors are limited to the capital they can invest on their own dime.

Take for instance Michael Dundas, president and CEO of Sira Naturals, which is one of the state’s largest grow facilities.

“It’s a very capital-intensive business to start,” Dundas explained. “You have to build large facilities. You’ve got to have technical expertise and the barriers are extremely high for small business people.”

The capital barrier is what prompted Sira Naturals to launch a new program called the Sira Accelerator. The company will be taking applications from entrepreneurs who will gain access to the Milford facility's marijuana plants, premium cannabis oil and test kitchen.

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Dundas says Massachusetts is the perfect place to launch an incubator for small businesses.

“There is no question about it, Massachusetts is hot bed of entrepreneurial activity, both in the health care sector and the technology sector and products development,” he said. “We are really looking to leverage our ability to use that infrastructure.”

To gain access to the program, the small business owners must agree to give Sira Naturals a small equity share in his or her business.

After touring the Milford facilities of Sira Naturals, Falmouth business owner Michelle Bennett thought the program could help her grow her company, Healing Tree Edibles.

“I would love to go nationwide, obviously,” she commented. “Anybody’s goal would be to go that big, mainstream.”

Dundas said they will start taking applications in late 2018. They expect to take up to five small business groups per session.

The best applicants will have a product prototype and some experience with infusions.

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