WASHINGTON, D.C. — The SBA 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.
In providing a template for the SBA to further scale its innovative 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.
The winners come from 48 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia will share $5.4 million, and have been awarded based on their proposals for innovative ideas that inclusively support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations. Four are from Kentucky: XLerator Network, Accelerated Innovative Manufacturing, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, and Inventors Network KY.
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 have 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 sectors with experience in early-stage investment, entrepreneurship, academics, startups, and economic development.
For a full list of winners and a short video of each program, please visit https://www.sbir.gov/accelerators.
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