UMass Lowell: Making a difference for a decade

The DifferenceMaker program has provided training, mentoring and other resources to UMass Lowell student entrepreneurs who wish to address social, environmental and economic problems in the community and world. DifferenceMaker works with students to solve their problems and make their ideas into realities. Even if students don't have ideas, they can still get involved!

Thanks to the support of the university and benefactors Kim and Brian Rist '77, $5 million has been raised by teams who have formed 40 different companies and filed for or been issued 11 patents.

DifferenceMaker by the numbers:

$5 million raised by teams

$527,800 awarded to students

60,000+ students reached

These teams take it to the bank

DifferenceMaker has spawned 40 companies in the past 10 years. Here are some of their success stories. Meet more DM Teams.

    • invisaWear is a stylish, discreet S.O.S device that allows people to protect themselves and the people they love.
    • Ambulatory Innovations was started in 2018 by two physical therapy graduate students who were inspired to develop better technologies for helping their patients get better, quicker.
    • ​​​​​​​Operation250 is a nonprofit, educational program aimed to protect youth from coming into contact with threatening materials and individuals online.
    • ​​​​​​​Nonspec believes that every person deserves the right to a comfortable, reliable and sustainable prosthetic.
    • ​​​​​​​MyGrow Fabrix is a smart fabric and fabric pot company for horticultural and agricultural means. Our smart fabrics are custom designed to sustain and protect the environment.

    • Benji Ball was developed to allow anyone, no matter their age or ability the opportunity to enjoy a game so many love, but not everyone is traditionally able to play.


    • Mass Heartbeat is committed to bringing affordable, efficient, and non-invasive ECG screenings directly to you.


    • Veterans Quick Reaction Force provides emergency monetary assistance to veterans facing financial instability due to unexpected hardships.


    • TopaCan turns almost any standard soda or beer can into a receptacle for cigarette butts.

Join the celebration on October 13

The 10-year anniversary celebration of DifferenceMaker will be a thank you dinner to our alumni and sponsors, and all that they have done for DifferenceMaker. The celebration will also be a chance for current DifferenceMaker students and past teams to share their successes and network with other alumni, students and community members. Additionally, Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business, will share a few words regarding his and his wife Kim’s donation to establish the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute in 2019. Get tickets.