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SBA Awards Two Central Florida Business Accelerator Programs

Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Release Number: 
NFL 14-23
Nayana Sen

Orlando, FL – On September 5, 2014 the U.S. Small Business Administration announced 50 winners of the first Growth Accelerator Fund competition. The awardees were selected from more than 800 applications, and amongst the winners were two Central Florida based Accelerators. Starter Studio, based out of Orlando, FL and Sunshine Labs, based out of Longwood, FL each received a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA.

“Florida is known nationally for tourism; however, there is a significant and growing small business sector that is also flourishing in Central Florida. These awards are indicative of how much impact and value our creative and exceptional small businesses bring to Central Florida. Congratulations to both Starter Studio and Sunshine Labs,” stated Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, SBA North Florida District Director.

Starter Studio is a technology accelerator in Orlando, Florida.  The three month program provides free desk space, mentorship, networking opportunities, and education to technology startups every few months.  Visit the Starter Studio website for information.

Sunshine Labs is a co-work space for hardware-focused startups. Sunshine Labs is a woman-started and owned space that grew out of a non-profit community hackerspace,  Visit the Sunshine Labs website for more information.

The recipients of the awards span 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The accelerators represent a broad set of industries and sectors - from manufacturing to tech start-ups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups.

"The SBA is empowering accelerators and startups that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors," said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. "We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help start-ups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. I want SBA to stand for 'Smart, Bold and Accessible' and these accelerators encompass all three of these goals.”

Winners were selected by a panel of seven judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans both inside and out of the federal government. The judges reviewed the applications and pitch videos submitted by the 100 finalists in the competition.

In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained among other pieces of information. This will allow the SBA to create a useful database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

The first year of this contest presents an opportunity for the SBA to engage with and support organizations whose sole purpose is to help start-ups to grow, become commercially viable and   have real and sustained economic impact. The SBA is going to honor the winners at a Fly-In day in Washington, D.C.  in November during National Entrepreneurship Month, in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network.