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SBA Administrator Guzman Announces $5.4 Million in Prizes to Support Inclusive Entrepreneurship in the Innovation Ecosystem

Connecticut’s HAYVN is among the winners
Release Date: 
Monday, September 20, 2021
Release Number: 

CONNECTICUT – The 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.

“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 Fund Competition (GAFC) included 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 HUBZone’s.

“We are pleased to announce our Connecticut winner for The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) – HAVYN located in Darien,’ says Catherine Marx, SBA’s Connecticut District Director. ‘Hosted at HAVYN, an event and co-working space, HAYVN LAUNCH offers women entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect, create and launch. GAFC winners including HAYVN LAUNCH received a

$50,000 prize."

Felicia Rubinstein, CEO for HAYVN states “I was thrilled to learn that HAYVN has won this grant.

Watching the videos of the other winners was super inspiring and honored to be part of this

national group. I’m appreciative of CTNEXT, who has been a big supporter of HAYVN, as well as Marie Rocha, of Realist Ventures, and Christine Sullivan, CT SBDC, who designed and managed HAYVN LAUNCH, CT’s first incubator program for women entrepreneurs. I am so excited to see all the support and attention that is focused around women entrepreneurship, it is our time to shine and with efforts like these we will soar.” Learn more about HAVYN LAUNCH here: HAYVN Launch | HAYVN | Small Business Incubator For Female Founders

Competitors 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


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit