Editor’s note: This post was republished with permission from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Policy Dialogue blog.
Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration launched a $3.95 million Growth Accelerator Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models — with a special emphasis on parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of early stage capital. More than 75 winners will be selected to receive $50,000 each.
The competition — which includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared maker-spaces and other models — began in 2014 and has given out $6.9 million over two years. Last year, 88 winners from 39 states (plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) received awards.
“Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed,” said Mark Walsh, Associate Administrator for the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation.
New to this year’s competition, SBA is partnering with several other federal agencies — National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Education (DoED) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) — to provide additional prizes to accelerators that assist entrepreneurs with submitting proposals for the Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), with support from the Office of International Trade (OIT), is also partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank to provide prizes to U.S. accelerators that assist the African descendant start-up community in Latin America and the Caribbean. Special consideration will be given to these accelerator models which support women-owned or minority-owned small businesses.
In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those who support them or other underrepresented groups, 44 percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 41 percent were classified as underrepresented groups.
Special consideration will be given to manufacturing accelerator models and models which support the White House Power Initiative during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.
Mark Marich is the executive vice president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Since 1998, Marich has provided communications leadership on several national initiatives and more than 100 public forums covering a wide range of policy issues, including: entrepreneurial growth and economic development, health care, renewable energy, telecommunications, regulatory reform and workforce development.
He is a regular contributor to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s blogs, which are syndicated by Missouri Business Alert.
Find Marich on Twitter: @markmarich.