January 8, 2024

SBA: Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Opened January 8th to Expand and Strengthen the National Innovation Ecosystem

Organizations will compete in two stages for $50,000 to $200,000 in prizes; SBA to award up to $3 Million in Stage One Prizes

Today,  Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s more than 33 million small businesses and startups, announced the opening of the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC). The competition offers $50,000 to $200,000 in prize awards in two stages to organizations to join SBA’s national innovation support ecosystem to advance small business research and development (R&D) from ideas to market. The Stage One application portal opens on Jan. 8 for five weeks, and the SBA will award up to $3 million in Stage One prize money by April.

“The SBA is committed to advancing America’s global leadership in innovation across critical industries by supporting entrepreneurs as they launch, grow, and manufacture across the country,” said SBA Administrator Guzman. “The SBA’s 10-year strong Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) strengthens the nation’s innovation ecosystem and builds local partnerships critical to ensuring all of America’s great ideas can thrive through the vast resources available through the federal government.” 

Prizes Awarded in Two Stages

Stage One offers $50,000 in cash prizes awarded to organizations for ecosystem-building activities, including recruitment of new partners, and strengthening existing alliances among stakeholders (including public, private, non-profit, and academic partners). Contestants work collaboratively with chosen partners to bring additional resources, deepen network connections, and develop strategies to support STEM/R&D-focused entrepreneurs and small businesses. The SBA welcomes Stage One submissions from a broad range of organizations with a collaborative vision to nurture a national ecosystem for equitable access to entrepreneurship. Applicants are asked to align their application with one of the following GAFC Theme Areas:

National and Economic Security, including but not limited to: 

Domestic Manufacturing and Production, including but not limited to: 

Sustainability and Biotechnology, including but not limited to

Stage Two of the competition offers an additional $50,000 to $150,000 in cash prizes to eligible Stage One winners to provide direct assistance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups that are looking to commercialize their innovation, from R&D to the commercial market. SBA intends to announce winners for Stage Two by September. A federal agency partner may also elect to provide a bonus prize to one or more Stage One contestants focused on a priority area of the agency partner’s choice. Bonus prize winners are awarded from the pool of Stage One contestants.

 “This year’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition builds on the success of last year’s competition, which successfully catalyzed bonds between local and national innovation ecosystem support networks. The competition Theme Areas aim to foster emerging partnerships around key innovation sectors. The prize awards will support entrepreneurs operating in undercapitalized and underserved markets with valuable resources in America’s innovation ecosystem,” said Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation.

To access the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Guidelines and Application Portal, please visit americasseedfund.us/accelerators.

Two information webinars will be held to support potential Stage One applicants. The webinars are free and open to the public. 

If you are interested in being a judge for the Growth Accelerator Competition, please fill out the following interest form: https://bit.ly/2024GAFCJudgeInterest. Judges are unpaid volunteers and are screened for conflict of interest and schedule conflicts before selection.

This post was originally published here.