SBA Contest to Award $2.5M for Startups

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a $2.5 million competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each. Deadline for applying is Aug. 2.

Before awarding the prizes, a panel of judges will consider each applicant's stated mission, founding team members and business goals and other core components, said Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA administrator.

Monday marked the start of this year's Small Business Week.

The panel will give particular attention to -- and the SBA encourages -- applicants who fill “geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space,” Contreras-Sweet said. She noted that the most successful accelerators to date have been founded on the coasts.

Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and thus startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital.

In addition to accelerators that fill the gaps described above, the SBA is seeking accelerators run by and support women or other underrepresented groups. Last, the agency will give special consideration to any accelerator models that support manufacturing, Contreras-Sweet noted.

Under the rules of this competition, Growth Accelerators encompass accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces and other models to accomplish similar goals.

Over the coming months, SBA representatives will work with partners such as the Global Accelerator Network to host Demo Days across the country. Demo Days provide opportunities for networking and the sharing of best practices among accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models.

The first Demo Day of this year was held in Austin, Texas, at the Capital Factory concurrent with the South by Southwest Festival.  There, 13 accelerators across various industries and areas gave five-minute pitches to a room full of their peers.

Finalists in the competition will participate in a Demo Day remotely, thus there is no requirement for applicants to participate in the in-person events.

To apply, visit this website.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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