Today, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced 84 winners for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and eight winners for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst competition, a new component aimed at spurring investment in underrepresented communities within the innovation economy at scale, receiving a combined total of $5.4 million in awards.
This important initiative would be expanded significantly by the $25 billion Biden-Harris Administration Build Back Better for small business agenda, which would invest an additional $400 million in the GAFC to support start-up accelerators and incubators working with underrepresented entrepreneurs. In providing a template for the SBA to further scale its innovation programming, these awards also highlight the outsized impact local winners can have at home with increased resources and the expanded role of small businesses as hubs for job creation and economic growth in our country.
“I am proud to announce the winners of the 2021 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and SBIR Catalyst prize competition. This year’s cohort of winners emphasizes our commitment to equity. Our awardees have innovative plans to support underserved entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, and individuals from underrepresented geographic areas,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “The Growth Accelerator prize funds will ensure a wide range of startups and innovators working on cutting edge STEM/R&D ideas have access to technical support and capital. The success of the first-ever SBIR Catalyst track will ensure newly piloted regional collaboratives represent the diverse potential of the U.S. innovation ecosystem. And President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda would enable us to ramp up this program even more, helping to reach thousands of innovators from underrepresented communities and geographic areas.”
The winners come from 48 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia, and have been awarded based on their proposals for innovative ideas that inclusively support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations.
In a first for the agency, the SBA this year held two prize tracks simultaneously: the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst Competitions.
- Track 1 – The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC): The winners of the GAFC are accelerators and incubators who proposed targeted assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, rural, and veteran entrepreneurs. The GAFC prize winners support a broad range of industries including clean energy, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure. Many accelerators and incubators also work to expand the participation of innovation-focused small businesses located in HUBZones. GAFC winners will each receive a $50,000 prize.
- Track 2- SBIR Catalyst: The winners of the SBIR Catalyst competition facilitated eight collaborative partnerships aimed at building connections across entrepreneur support organizations that foster innovation-driven entrepreneurs from underserved communities. The winners are recognized connectors across programs that fund innovation clusters, hubs, and other technology-based economic development initiatives. SBIR Catalyst winners will each receive a $150,000 prize.
Competitors for both tracks were required to submit a presentation deck and a 90-second video to describe their overall plan for an award, including their work with targeted entrepreneur groups, experience with STEM/R&D, and implementation plans for the prize funds. Applications were judged by panels of experts from the private and public sector with experience in early-stage investment, entrepreneurship, academic, startups, and economic development.
For a full list of winners, please visit www.sbir.gov/accelerators